12,352.35-3.15
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

Calling numbers, calculations, staying active: Sotheby’s boss reveals key skills of an auctioneer

Ishrat Kanga, who once served as an auctioneer, said that the job can also be daunting.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 11, 2019, 01.34 PM IST
0Comments
Agencies
Ishrat Kanga, deputy director, specialist, head of Sale at Sotheby’s London, has also donned the auctioneer’s hat.
Ishrat Kanga, deputy director, specialist, head of Sale at Sotheby’s London, has also donned the auctioneer’s hat.
Can you command a room and get people to part with their money? Then auctioneering may be your true calling.

Standing on the rostrum, gavel in hand, the auctioneer holds the crowd and tries to engineer proceedings to get the maximum bid. But when record auction prices make headlines, it’s the artwork, the artist and the buyer (if known) who are spoken about and not the person who sealed the deal. It’s commonly believed that salesmanship and humour are the only qualities an auctioneer needs.

“People don’t realise how much goes into it [auctioning]. It’s not as simple as just standing up there and saying out loud the numbers,” says Ishrat Kanga, deputy director, specialist, head of Sale at Sotheby’s London, who has also donned the auctioneer’s hat.

Hitting the gavel
One of the important things an auctioneer needs is numerical dexterity to keep track of the increments. “You have to do mental calculations in your head,” says Kanga.

It’s all about playing with the secret reserve price — a minimum sale price for a work as decided by the seller. It’s the auctioneer’s job to keep bidding right up to the reserve price against someone who is willing to acquire that work. “Say there is a reserve price of 100 pounds for a work. You have to start lower [with the bidding] because you can’t give up the secret reserve price,” says Kanga. “If I start at 95, everybody is going to know that the next bid is 100, which is the reserve price. The beauty is subtly hiding where the reserve price is.”

Say the auctioneer starts at 65. “The bid goes 70, 75, 80 and so on. Now 100 is the reserve price. So, as an auctioneer you have to remember that 100 does not fall on you. The collector in the room has to [buy the lot]. You have to do that calculation in your head. You have to back track in your mind to figure out a way that the 95 bid falls on you [the auctioneer] and the 100 falls on the buyer,” Kanga says. The reason: If you take the bid at 100 (the reserve price) and nobody else bids after that, the lot is sold to you — the auctioneer.

Managing the stress
The job can also be daunting, particularly when there is a difficult crowd and there are no bids. Kanga likens it to putting on a live performance. “It is very stressful. You have to think on your feet. Your energy level has to be at the maximum for hours and hours, because if you start to fade, they [the buyers] start to fade,” she says.

From Rare Pokemon Cards To Empty Frames, Bizarre Pieces Of Artwork That Were Sold For Milli...

of 10
Next
Prev
Play Slideshow

Banana + Duct Tape = Magic!

9 Dec, 2019
An artwork called ‘Comedian’ created by an Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, which was recently sold for a whopping $121,000 (approximately Rs. 86.07 lakhs), has become the talk of the town. The artwork, to everyone’s surprise, was a mere banana held against the wall using a duct tape. The rather puzzling piece of art being sold for such a massive amount, left the netizens scratching their heads in amazement. Things took a rather dramatic turn when performance artist David Datuna ended up taking the banana off the wall and eating it while the artwork was on display at an international gallery, Perrotin, at Art Basel in Miami. However, the banana-duct tape ensemble is not the only bizarre piece of artwork that has made a massive amount of money. Several ridiculous and weird pieces of artwork have been sold for millions of dollars in the last decade. Here are some of them.
Next

Also Read

Ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship to introduce skill vouchers

Wipro partners with Nasscom to skill students

Make skills for youth top priority: PM to ministries

Educational institutes gear up for new-age skills

Digital skills to decide pay hikes at Infosys

Comments
Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.

Popular Categories


Other useful Links


Copyright © 2020 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service