Santa Fe, 30 January 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Under the impetus of Senator Tim Keller (Albuquerque District), a new bill designed to regulate auction house activity was introduced in New Mexico’s Senate last week.
The law would, for the first time, introduce the idea of state surveillance on auction houses. Senate Bill 78 would impose new restrictions on the way they do business, demanding that auction houses make their reserve prices public (or at least the minimum acceptable price for an artwork). Auction houses would also have to make public all of their financial interests in a piece of artwork, and buyers would be able to inspect lots before making an offer. Furthermore, the law would give the Attorney General’s Office authority to regulate art sales and act on consumer complaints.
The law proposed in New Mexico is similar to a New York law, which originally contained several of the same propositions, but ended up being considerably diluted.
Senator Tim Keller has explained that this bill comes following his receipt of several complaints from gallerists and collectors. He has so far declined to cite particular names, or to indicate the auction houses which are directly involved.