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A summary of readers’ concerns from the latest ATG survey.

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More than 630 subscribers took part in the 2017 survey.

In total, 80% of readers described themselves as “concerned or very concerned” about buyer’s premium, while 71% were worried about fakes.

In the wider world of politics and business, Brexit is front and centre as the negotiations with the EU unfold. But for the art and antiques trade Brexit appears to be further down the immediate list of worries, with 44% of respondents saying it was a primary concern.

The issue of fakes is a perennial problem for the trade but high-profile cases in Old Masters, French furniture, modern pictures and Chinese works of art appear to have bought worries to the fore.

Authenticity questions

James Ratcliffe, general counsel and director of recoveries at Art Loss Register, said: “Fakes and forgeries have existed for thousands of years. However, thanks to online catalogues and media platforms, it is now much easier than ever before for the authenticity of an artwork to be called into question and, crucially, for this to be widely and rapidly publicised.

“When combined with increasing values across many sectors, I believe it is this that has led to a rise in concern.”

The level of buyer’s premium charged at auction – now regularly over 25% when including VAT – is a perennial issue for collectors and dealers in particular. Last year the Advertising Standards Authority investigated whether the estimates in auction catalogues are misleading if they fail to either state or include the buyer’s premium alongside the guide price.

In March it issued new guidance on how auctioneers should present their commission rates.

In total, 82% of dealers cited buyer’s premium as a concern. Increased regulation (90%) and changing fashions (70%) were the top concerns for auctioneers.

The survey also revealed the areas that our readers hoped to spend more on in 2018, with paintings, jewellery and furniture taking the top three spots. Silver and ceramics made up the top five.