View Full Version : Ctein's experience with Guernsey's Auction House

01-28-2011, 12:27 PM
How to make a Small Fortune in photography... (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/01/small-fortune.html)

It's a tragedy. Just want to warn folks here in advance, and hopefully bump up the article's search rating to boot, so more folks get the message.

01-28-2011, 12:54 PM
Interesting read from Ctein, thanks for posting. I appreciate his outwardness and sharing some of the "inner-dealings" of the art photography world.

01-28-2011, 01:10 PM
This does sound bad, but remember we're hearing just one side of this story, and it never ceases to amaze me how things can change when the other side comes out.

I'm not saying I don't believe the story, but that the story is incomplete, and this auction company is being publicly flogged (not here) based on only half the story. I'm not comfortable with attacking someone's livelihood based on a one-sided internet report.

01-28-2011, 01:15 PM
Good point. The outwardnes is interesting, but it does make you wonder about the other side. Everybody usually thinks they're right; that's human nature afterall.

01-28-2011, 01:21 PM
Yes, that was a very interesting read. Thanks for posting.

Photo Engineer
01-28-2011, 01:29 PM
Ummm, with dead silence from the other end, that is a message in itself! Don't you agree?

Just rhetorical, as we will probably never hear the other side, but I do know Ctein and he is an up front, honest person in his dealings, so the article appears quite valid to me.


01-28-2011, 01:52 PM
Ummm, with dead silence from the other end, that is a message in itself! Don't you agree?


No, I don't get a message from silence, other than the possibility that they've lawyered-up and have been told to keep quiet while the lawyers make some calls to straighten it out. Who knows?

Like I said earlier this story sounds bad, but attacking someones business based on a one sided story that "sounds bad" (especially when I don't have a dog in the fight) doesn't feel right to me. It would sure suck to find out only after pushing a lot of harmful press that the auction house wasn't as culpable as I thought.

Just $0.02.


Photo Engineer
01-28-2011, 01:55 PM

I can agree with your POV, however the correct response in that case would be "we have contacted our attorney and he will be in touch with you". That is a more reasoned reaction if what you say is true.

And, that response is usually given under advice of attorney.


01-28-2011, 02:00 PM
True. I think they should say something too.

I think they're probably dunderheads that can't handle a print. Probably. :-)

01-28-2011, 02:06 PM
i read that last night scott -
seems like a nightmare ..

and i can see how it could be true
the gallery world is not doing well
it makes sense the auction houses are having trouble too ..

sorry to hear ctien lost those images, a lot of them were irreplaceable :(

01-28-2011, 02:27 PM
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:


01-28-2011, 04:24 PM
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.

01-28-2011, 06:55 PM
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.


01-28-2011, 07:01 PM
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.

01-31-2011, 11:57 AM
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.

Peter Gomena

01-31-2011, 12:05 PM
Maybe we should be drymounting prints; better than getting them bent.