French auctions fell 80% during COVID-19 lockout

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A new study by the French Voluntary Sales Council found that auctions held during the country’s COVID-19 lockout resulted in an 80% drop in sales. The news comes as galleries and auction houses across France begin to reopen in accordance with new security measures, including the Hotel Drouot, perhaps the most iconic auction site in the country.

The study identified 175 sales held during the containment period in France, which French President Emmanuel Macron began canceling on May 11. Of these 175 sales, 56% were live auctions, where the auctioneers offered lots for sale on a live video stream so that collectors could bid in real time. Forty-four percent were purely online sales, many of which occurred in a week or more.

While auctions have gradually started to increase again, with the exception of charity auctions, no sale in France has exceeded one million euros since the start of the lockout. To put things in perspective, in 2019, public auctions in France reached 3.37 billion euros (3.65 million dollars) in sales in all sectors, up 12% compared to l ‘last year.

Ariane Chausson, director of information at the Voluntary Sales Council, said AFP:

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