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Nation IN BRIEF : NEW YORK

Probe of Auction, Art Dealers Reported

June 03, 1997|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

In a wide-ranging antitrust investigation, the Justice Department has subpoenaed financial documents from several prominent New York art dealers and the auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's, the New York Times reported. Justice Department spokeswoman Jennifer Rose confirmed that an antitrust investigation is occurring. Dealers said they believe the probe centers on the possibility of collusion and price-fixing among art dealers buying at auction. The possibility of "bid-rigging" or "bid-pooling" by art dealers who agree not to engage in bidding wars has long been rumored in the art world. The practice keeps works from being auctioned for their true value and allows dealers to resell the work at an exaggerated profit.

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