A Paris auction firm has been banned from holding sales for nine months and two of its auctioneers suspended for three months following a disciplinary hearing by the government body appointed to oversee auction practice in France.
In a rare show of strength, the Conseil des Ventes Volontaires ruled on January 24 that Europ Auction, run by Camille Burgi, had systematically falsified records, published false results, sold items that were their own property without notification and failed to use third-party accounts.
The two commissaires priseurs engaged by the firm, Didier Lafarge and Nathalie Vermot, were suspended for their part in falsifying the record of sales.
The Conseil considered a series of misdemeanours dating from September 2010 to September 2012. Catherine Chadelat, president of the Conseil, described them as fundamental transgressions of the professional code of conduct and was particularly critical of the stage-managed sale of a pair of Boulle cabinets on September 26, 2012.
The cabinets appeared to sell at auction for €2.2m, whereas a private sale had been agreed 12 days before the sham sale at which employees of Europ Auction made a show of bidding the cabinets up to the price already negotiated. This was described as a publicity stunt solely intended to enhance the reputation of Europ Auction.