“Honour is safe,” commented Paris daily Libération wryly, noting that the vote took place four days before France assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union. It was the EU who, acting on an appeal from Sotheby’s, originally demanded that France end the commissaires-priseurs’ domestic auction monopoly.
The reform will come into effect once the government ministries concerned (Culture, Justice, Finance) finalise the “decrees of application”, detailing all its practical aspects – probably this Autumn.
Dominique Ribeyre, president of the Paris Company of Commissaires-Priseurs, said it was “high time we saw the end of the reform saga”, adding: “It is urgent that the compensation commission set to work so that we can dispose of the commercial wherewithal to face our competitors.” The compensation granted commissaires-priseurs for the loss of their monopoly will be equivalent to 50 per cent of the value of their étude or practice, based on results over the last five years.
Ribeyre “deeply regrets” that the auction reform does not include fiscal measures “without which opening up the French market becomes semi-meaningless”. He is also dismayed at Britain’s “dispensation from applying droit de suite, which could last up to 15 years”, and at the prospect of reproduction rights being levied on sale catalogues. “How can the reform really boost Paris, as the government claims, in these conditions?” he asks.