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The association says the service will give its 330 members "global reach" and hopes to challenge the established auction model by charging only a 15% seller's commission with no buyer's premium, lot or catalogue fees.

In a further disruption to industry tradition, dealers will be identified as sellers and be in direct contact with buyers in order to fulfil a sale.

Consigned stock will remain in the dealer's care until a sale is made.

The move is a first for an antiques dealers' trade body and a radical initiative for BADA as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2018.

The brand name BADA Auctions will be registered, with plans to host three to four sales a year initially to test the market.

The BADA is teaming up with US-based digital marketing firm The Curator's Eye, which does not itself host auctions but will source the technology to host 'virtual' live auctions on the association's website. An auctioneer will host the sales in London but bidding is via the internet only.

"Alternative to regular auction houses"

The move is the brainchild of BADA chairman Michael Cohen, who told ATG that providing an auction service "is what we need to do and has been mooted for some time. Auctioneers have become retailers and in some cases direct retailers by private treaty sale. We either get steam-rollered or come back with an alternative to regular auction houses".

Cohen added: "We're trying to create a totally new model done very much from a dealer perspective but also giving buyers all the guarantees they get from a top dealer."

He said the plans had "majority support from members, particularly in the regions".

BADA-run auctions would help members sell to "a whole generation of people who buy at auction and have never been into a gallery". Dealer consignors will be encouraged to keep reserves "realistic", Cohen said, adding that "there's no point in making objects unsaleable".

The BADA plans to do deals with existing online art and antiques bidding platforms to direct traffic to its auctions. The Curator's Eye will also mount digital advertising campaigns to encourage bidding and manage payment collection on behalf of the BADA.

The BADA and The Curator's Eye will split revenue from sales, though BADA chief executive Marco Forgione stressed the move was "not a massive money maker for the BADA, rather a service for members".