For all his chops, Ctein appears to have made some mistakes. Valuations? Insurance? Judgement? The house he dealt with doesn't appear to deal with photographic art on a regular or, better still, an exclusive basis. Big errors on setting reserves and carrying insurance probably stemmed from lack of current credible valuations--never cheap.
More discussion here:
Well, despite his mistakes in choosing a venue for marketing the images (I did wonder why he didn't take them to Sotheby's or Christies, and if he did, why did he not use them), there's no excuse for the auction house to A: abusively mis-handle the prints, and B: make considerable effort to deny the damage and blow off their customer. I would be more inclined to want to hear "the other side" if Ctein was ranting and raving and behaving like a jerk, but instead he took his lumps from his lesson learned and is just writing a caveat emptor for anyone else out there looking to auction artwork. A worthwhile coda to his blog post would be "shop around for auction houses and find one that specializes in selling artwork, and truly understands the market for what you're trying to sell. Oh, and write an insurance policy without such a high deductible. And get a delivery memo agreeing to the condition of the work at the time it is consigned". That would be the prudent thing.
I agree that he was naive and made some serious mistakes, which he admits himself. But the story gives the impression that this auction house, which I have never heard of, despite knowing a fair amount about the art world, is not very upstanding. I think the story illustrates yet again that when people think they can make a quick buck on something, they often are so eager to capitalize that they don't do proper research or make well-informed choices. Art is a tricky market, and rock memorabilia (which these pictures really are), is too. I'm saddened to think that businesses take advantage of people like this. So kudos to the guy for being willing to tell his story to help educate others.
the history of business is that some are upstanding and do not take advantage of their customers
and some are not so ... it is too bad he didn't realize who he was dealing with.
Gads. A real nightmare. If you read the first few paragraphs of the story, though, he didn't listen to his closest advisers. Its a shame those images of cultural icons were damaged. At least he recovered something for the damages and the images weren't lost or destroyed. It could have been worse.
Maybe we should be drymounting prints; better than getting them bent.