16-01-11-2224NE06B BADA dealers Michael Cohen.jpg
Above: BADA Chairman Michael Cohen

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ATG: Where is the demand for BADA Auctions coming from?

MC: An alternative to established auctions is something that's been mooted by various dealers over the years. We're trying to give dealers global reach and it's very hard for a single dealer to do that themselves. A good object that's been at the back of a Petworth shop for 20 years is suddenly exposed to many buyers.

At the same time there's a whole generation of people who only feel comfortable buying at auction and who have never been into a gallery. My view is that it's easier to pursue those people via dealer auction and encourage them to have direct relationships with dealers.

ATG: Isn't 'BADA Auctions' a sign that the traditional dealer model is dead?

MC: The point is there are hundreds of thousands of buyers out there and dealers are only exposed to a small proportion of them. The big auction houses create publicity for that side of the market and smaller auctioneers take advantage of that. And now we can too - but with no buyer's commission and knowing who you're buying from.

ATG: Dealers already consign to auctions and get a trade discount.

MC: Auctioneers couldn't operate if they didn't have dealer goods to sell. The reason I don't want to sell at auction is that while I may make a sale, I don't make a client.

ATG: How will you persuade dealers to reveal their identities at auction?

MC: Even if a dealer wants to be incognito, they'll still have to come forward to complete the transaction and be introduced to the client. I can't imagine dealers won't want that. Creating a client relationship is far more important that making an individual sale, and our model encourages this. 

ATG: There is a perception that dealer stock sold at auction is stock that couldn't be sold retail.

It's only a perception - auctions are already full of dealer pieces. Some auctions consist mainly of dealers' pieces - for instance, the 'Ronald Phillips Ltd Making Room' sale [Christie's South Kensington, 2014]. The pieces being sold at BADA Auctions are good enough for a BADA dealer to buy and some will be fresh to market.

ATG: What do Curator's Eye bring to the deal?

MC: They're providing the technology, PR and advertising. Curator's have a global database of half a million buyers for marketing purposes, 200,000 of whom are high-net worth.

ATG: Is this about bringing BADA dealers to an American audience?

MC: BADA is now international and we're building up our US membership. We have to offer things that have an international interest.