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The reform ending French auctioneers’ centuries-old monopoly of auctions in France came a step nearer on July 20 with the publication of the décrets d’application – the law’s detailed working text. It has taken a full year to iron out the law’s technicalities since its approval by Parliament in July 2000.

But auctioneers must first gain approval from the new Conseil des Ventes (Sales Council or “auction watchdog”) before they can hold sales, and the Conseil is still being set up. Council members, who will include a minority of art market professionals, have still to be appointed by Justice Minister Marylise Lebranchu.

Drouot chief Dominique Ribeyre, who says the delay in introducing the reform has had “perverse effects” on the Paris market, “hopes everything will be done to enable the Conseil des Ventes to function as soon as possible” and told the Antiques Trade Gazette that recent talks with Lebranchu gave him the impression that nominations were imminent. But François Curiel, Head of Christie’s France, believes it could take “up to seven months” before foreign auctioneers receive the necessary authorisation to sell in France.

The delay has prompted Christie’s to follow Sotheby’s example in joining forces with Paris auctioneers for their first sale in the French capital.

Two Drouot auction firms, Calmels-Chambre-Cohen and Gridel-Boscher-Flobert-Lasseron, will be involved in selling tribal art from the collection of the late Belgian businessman René Gaffé in Paris on December 8. The sale is slated for Christie’s Avenue Matignon premises, but Christie’s acknowledge they have contingency plans for moving the sale – expected to bring around £3m – elsewhere if they are obliged to do so (as was the case for Sotheby’s with their recent joint sales with Poulain-Le Fur ).

Market-fresh Modern art from the Gaffé collection, including important works by Mirò, Magritte, Léger and Picasso expected to total over £30m, will be sold by Christie’s in New York on November 6. Profits from both sales will go to charity and there will be no reserves.