A bronze sculpture of “Artemis and the Stag, " reputed to date from the Roman-era, was sold, in 2007, at Sotheby's in New York for US$28.6 million. Such a price, which surpassed all pre-auction estimates, produced a new record in so much as it represented the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction.
One of the most popular pieces at most art sales are items of porcelain. Christie's sold for £15.68 million, in 2005, a piece of Chinese porcelain dating from the 14th century. Such was this sale that it produced a world record for any ceramic work of art sold at auction.
The derivation of the term “auction" comes from the Latin augēre, which means “to increase" or “augment".
Throughout history, auctions have not been the favoured way of negotiating the sale and purchase of goods and commodities. Apart from the sale by a pre-determined price, by far the most popular method has been that of the age-old art of haggling, which refers to the process of negotiating the price of an item with a view to securing a better deal than the stated price. In fact, prior to the seventeenth century, the holding of auctions was an infrequent occurrence.
Nevertheless, the holding of auctions goes back into pre-history. Records show that the earliest known auction took place around 500 B. C. In the region of Babylon, an area just south of Baghdad, auctions of women for the purposes of marriage were held annually. The auctioneer began the proceedings with the woman he considered to be the most beautiful. It ended, when only the least attractive remained. In fact, it was regarded as unlawful for a daughter to be sold in any other way than by auction.
After a military victory, it was an accepted practice for Roman soldiers to use their spears to form an area in which the spoils of war were left to be auctioned off at a later date. This included captured slaves, who were also regarded as the “spoils of war", and were auctioned in the forum under the sign of the spear, with the proceeds of the sale being used to offset the costs of the war.
In Roman times, it was common to use auctions in order to sell off the valuables of those debtors whose property had been confiscated. An excellent case in point is that of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who sold even his household furniture to pay off debts. It was recorded that the sales of all these assets lasted for months.
In 193 A. D, the entire Roman Empire itself was put up for auction by the Praetorian Guard, which represented the special force of personal bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. This monumental historical event was set in motion when The Praetorian Guard first killed the emperor Pertinax, and then offered the entire empire to the highest bidder. Didius Julianus outbid everyone else and was made Emperor. However, this started a brief civil war which led to his beheading, two months later, when Septimius Severus conquered Rome and, in turn, became emperor.
After the fall of the Roman Empire and through to the eighteenth century auctions, went out of favour in Europe. On the other hand, they had never been widely accepted in Asia.
Auctions – How To Succeed
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