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Anatomy of the Rise and Fall of a Price-Fixing Conspiracy: Auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's

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  • Ashenfelter, Orley C
  • Graddy, Kathryn

Abstract

The Sotheby’s/Christie’s price-fixing scandal that ended in the public trial of Alfred Taubman provides a unique window on a number of key economic and antitrust policy issues related to the use of the auction system. The trial provided detailed evidence as to how the price fixing worked, and the economic conditions under which it was started and began to fall apart. The outcome of the case also provides evidence on the novel auction process used to choose the lead counsel for the civil settlement. Finally, though buyers received the bulk of the damages, a straightforward application of the economic theory of auctions shows that it is unlikely that successful buyers as a group were injured.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4662.

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Date of creation: Oct 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4662

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Keywords: auctions; cartels; commissions; price-fixing;

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  1. Kathryn Graddy & Orley Ashenfelter, 2002. "Auctions and the Price of Art," Economics Series Working Papers 131, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
  3. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1989. "How Auctions Work for Wine and Art," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 23-36, Summer.
  4. Ginsburgh, Victor & Legros, Patrick & Sahuguet, Nicolas, 2005. "How to Win Twice at an Auction: On the Incidence of Commissions in Auction Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 4876, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
  6. Gallet, Craig A. & Schroeter, John R., 1995. "The Effects of the Business Cycle on Oligopoly Coordination: Evidence from the U.S. Rayon Industry," Staff General Research Papers 5250, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Robert H. Porter, 1983. "A Study of Cartel Stability: The Joint Executive Committee, 1880-1886," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 301-314, Autumn.
  8. Posner, Richard A, 1970. "A Statistical Study of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 365-419, October.
  9. Margaret C. Levenstein & Valerie Y. Suslow, 2002. "What Determines Cartel Success?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2002-01, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  10. Mukesh Eswaran, 1997. "Cartel Unity over the Business Cycle," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 644-72, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Joseph E. Harrington, Jr, 2006. "How Do Cartels Operate?," Economics Working Paper Archive 531, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  2. Calin Valsan & Robert Sproule, 2008. "Reservation Prices And Pre-Auction Estimates: A Study In Abstract Art," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 10(24), pages 257-272, June.

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