To the highest bidder

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

The muffled world of auctions is worth billions worldwide, with 2022 being a record year. One of the country's two auctioneers takes us behind the scenes of a passionate profession, where an eye for beautiful things is paramount.

Many people dream of finding a treasure in their grandmother's attic. In France, the television programme "Affaire conclue", in which private individuals hope to get the most out of family heirlooms or items forgotten in a corner, has rekindled the myth of treasure hunting, along with the boom in garage sales and other applications where second-hand goods are king. But you still need to be able to estimate the value of things. There are several ways of doing this. Collectors specialise in their passion know the value of the rare gems they are trying to unearth. Depending on the object and the period, auctions are sometimes the only way to get your hands on something that will complete your collection, or to take advantage of rising prices for a particular object. The art market is booming, and the global auction sector enjoyed a record year in 2022. Banks and other financial institutions have made no mistake, and even wine is the object of covetousness, with prices soaring for famous names.

Auction houses are where it all happens. "The art market today is dominated by auction houses, " explains Adrien Denoyelle, an auctioneer based in Stadtbredimus. "My father helped me a lot, as he is an expert in 18th and 19th century furniture and bronzes. So these are things I know very well. I also have a good knowledge of wine, but my specialities are 1950s furniture by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret." It was a trip to India that turned the then young enthusiast into a true professional: "12 years ago, I went to India to Chandigarh, a city designed by Le Corbusier and whose furniture was made by Pierre Jeanneret, his cousin. In 2008/2009, I bought some of Pierre Jeanneret's furniture on the spot, brought it back to Europe and regularly include it in my auctions. It's very popular and very fashionable."

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