A group of silver dealers walked out of the first sale of the season at Sotheby's, the auctioneers, on Thursday (4 September) in protest against the introduction of a buyers' premium.
SV & CU Dealers looking at silver (3 shots)
CU Silverware and dealers
SV ZOOM OUT TO GV Man holding up item in auction room
CU Dealers staying silent and refusing to bid (3 shots)
SV Dealers leaving seats and walking out
GV Auction continues with private buyers (3 shots)
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: "For Sotheby's this was a minor sale of silver but it was the first of the season and the first of the ??? increased rate of commission which both they and Christie's London's other major sale room, have introduced. From now on both buyer and seller will each pay ten per cent commission, buyers paying it on top of the hammer price.
"A group of London's principle silver dealers had threatened to boycott the bidding and they remained silent as the first lot came under the hammer. Members of the British Antique Dealers' Association and other professional bodies claimed their action meant that prices today were significantly down. And after about twenty minutes they walked out of the sale room.
"Sotheby's say that spreading the commission between buyer and seller is in line with continental practice. They maintain today's lot had fetched average prices and brought a total of over twenty-two thousand pounds."
This film is serviced with an English commentary by BBC reporter David Wickham.
REPORTER: DAVID WICKHAM
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A group of silver dealers walked out of the first sale of the season at Sotheby's, the auctioneers, on Thursday (4 September) in protest against the introduction of a buyers' premium.
Both Sotheby's and the other major auctioneers, Christie's, recently imposed the ten per cent commission which both the buyer and seller must pay.
At first, the silver dealers, many of them members of the British Antique Dealers' Association, said they would boycott the auctions completely. Later they decided to attend but refused to bid. After several lots had been auctioned, the dealers left their accustomed places at a horse-shoe-shaped table beneath the rostrum and left the room. Only one foreign dealer was left at the table, in some bewilderment.
In spite of the protest, Sotheby's sale totalled "better than normal" prices.
The directors of the sales room appear to be taking the protest in their stride and with gentlemanly charm. The Deputy Chairman, Mr. Graham Llewellyn, remarked "We thought the protest was an extremely dignified one. They could not have done it in a nicer way".