Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
Santa Monica Auctions
In a region the size of metro Los Angeles, with its population of approximately 14 million people, one would expect to find no shortage of established fine-art auction houses catering to its millionaire moguls and movie stars, but that's not actually the case. The two big guns - Christie's and Sotheby's - no longer conduct fine art sales in SoCal, meaning the field has become all the more accessible for houses like Santa Monica Auctions, which, for the past quarter of a century, has occupied its own well-rooted proprietary niche within the local auction landscape. Founder/owner Robert Berman says his company stands alone in its area of specialty in Greater LA. "Santa Monica Auctions was established in 1984. It's the only true, independently owned and operated auction house dealing exclusively in contemporary art in Los Angeles," he told Auction Central News. "Because we've built a reputation as specialists over the past 35+ years, we're able to get very good consignments for our sales." Berman's methods are as modern as the art he sells. The gallery produces its catalog electronically and uses LiveAuctioneers.com as its Internet live-bidding provider. "Because our catalog is electronic, we're able to accept consignments right up to auction day or the day before. It can make a big difference," said Berman. (Note: A printed order of sale is given to those who personally attend Berman's auctions.) In order to attract such a high caliber of consignments, a gallery must produce results. No one can dispute SMA's ability to do just that. Asked if there's a secret to his success in achieving consistently buoyant prices for top-notch Contemporary art, Berman replied that earning the trust of consignors is an all-important factor. "The key is to get the prices and reserves low enough that true collectors can't help but bid."