Wednesday, April 22, 2009


It costs to call off an auction the way Michael Jackson did last week.

The sale of Michael Jackson's memorabilia has been canceled. The auction, by Julien's Auctions in West Hollywood, was scheduled to start April 22, but the star changed his mind and wanted his belongings back. The auction had been well-publicized with ads, exhibitions, and a 900-page catalog. Jackson's company sued to stop the auction and the result was an agreement, not a trial. The auction house said it had spent $2 million preparing for the sale, so we assume the agreement (which was not made public) included a cash payment. Although few of us will ever have an auction of collectibles worth millions, it's important to know what happens when you take a consigned item out of a sale. Most contracts between seller and auction house either do not allow it or ask for cash to cover pre-auction expenses, the publicity value of the piece and more. Even at a house sale, removal of a large number of the top-priced items can lead to legal problems and a cash settlement. Be sure you have a contract when you're using anyone's services to sell your possessions. And be sure you read it before you sign it.


Anonymous said...

No matter how nice the person, nor how trusted: You need to be a good businessperson. Get everything in writing. Repeat: everything, including estimated sales results, actual commissions. And dealings with family members is no different. In writing= Makes for smooth, even,no-confusion, no-argument relationships. Again: GET IT ALL WRITTEN OUT: time, date, size, weight, number, who, when, where. Payout when.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, the 900-page catalog created for the now-cancelled Michael Jackson auction is probably itself a collectors' item. How much do you think you could get for one?

LeeAnn said...

Something that everyone needs to realize before having an estate auction is that there are many auction houses out there whose main goal is to rip you off. Some of them have become quite well known in your town. It is imperative that you have clauses in your contract that allow items that have not been sold be returned to you. Do not take an offer by these people on what is "left over" after the auction unless you know its true value. These unscrupulous houses will put extremely high openning bid prices on items that they want to keep, thereby discouraging people from bidding on them. After the auction is over, they will make an offer to you (or have it in their contract that you signed) that will low ball the actual value. Generally they will offer a flat fee for all left over items and this may be part of the original contract. You must be careful reading those contracts. You must also get independant appraisals on the items so that you can compare what you are being told. Do not trust these people. They are only out to make as much money as they can and I have known several families who lost a great fortune from these places. They are all over now, even in your home town. They are very sly and most people do not realize that they have been ripped off. If you mention this scam to them, they will readily agree with you and then try to assure you that they do not do this, bending over backwards to make you feel comfortible, but on the day of the auction, they will forget to have included the special clauses in the contract and everything else you have discussed. Be very careful when dealing with them and good luck.