Art market

Partnerships in the French auction market

Commissaire-priseurs unite in preparation for 1998


There has been much speculation about partnerships between the French commissaires-priseurs since the announcement that the French auction market is to be opened up in 1988. The first of these partnerships to become a reality was made official this autumn and involves maître Jean-Louis Picard, and maîtres Pierre-Emmanuel Audap, Lucien Solanet and Alexis Vellet.

The new auction house Picard, Audap, Solanet and Associates has its premises in the offices of maître Jean-Louis Picard at 5, rue Drouot. It has already organised sixteen sales. A second session of sales takes place on 18 December (Old Master paintings, objets d’art, furniture). The other sales will be of ethnographic art, old books, Old Master drawings, jewellery and silver.

Similar in size and each with a worthy reputation, the two firms complement each other as far as specialisms are concerned as well. Maître Jean-Louis Picard’s firm had a turnover of FFr 100.9 million (£12 million; $19.2 million) in 1995 and is best known for its sales of furniture, prints and contemporary paintings. Their new partners (FFr 90 million last year (£10.7 million; $17.1 million)) are generally associated with Old Master drawings and paintings. Jean-Louis Picard observes that “by merging we shall become the second largest auction house in France”. Because of current legislation, the Picard, Audap, Solanet partnership cannot be launched until January 1998. After that date, maître Jean-Louis Picard informed us, the firm could begin to focus on other capital cities, outside France; it could become a limited company and might enlarge further by going into partnership with other auction houses and experts.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Only Connect'