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A draft bill recommending further reform to the French auction system has passed through the Senate in Paris.

Image credit Wikimedia Commons.

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Its key measures, supported by the auction house watchdog Conseil des Ventes Volontaires and Le Syndicat National des Maisons de Ventes Volontaires (SYMEV), seek to relax of the legal framework that surrounds art and antiques sales, bringing the French system closer to ‘the Anglo-Saxon model’ that is based primarily on self-regulation.

After a near unanimous vote, SYMEV president Jean-Pierre Osenat said: “[The CVV Reform Act] includes various provisions that will allow the profession to reconnect with its entrepreneurial spirit” He urged that the bill be included in the parliamentary agenda of the National Assembly as soon as possible.

In December last year, a report commissioned by the minister of justice Nicole Belloubet made 41 recommendations including the introduction of different rules for ‘voluntary’ and ‘judicial’ auctions and the relaxing of the need for auctioneers to have entrance qualifications and training.

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The key measures of the bill seek to relax the legal framework that surrounds art and antiques sales in France.

Following the report, the act allows for the creation of a new council, effectively replacing the Conseil des Ventes with a new Conseil des Maisons de Ventes composed mainly of commissaire-priseurs (auctioneer).

It is almost two decades since the major reforms of 2000 that changed the French commissaire-priseur from a state-appointed official to a commercial operator and opened the market to foreign competitors. Further changes came in 2011 including permitting French auctioneers to conduct private sales and offer financial guarantees and advances to sellers as they seek to compete with Christie’s and Sotheby’s.