Friday, February 20, 2009

Daryle Lambert: The most Hated Person in the Antiques and Fine Art business.

Daryle Lambert - America's Most Wanted

By the People

It all started several years ago when one of my best friends said ”Daryle, why do you feel that you must educate everyone?" I have thought about that question many times over the years and here is my answer.

There is a fair way to conduct business and everyone is entitled to make a profit from their efforts but then the question comes up, “What is fair?” Is “let the buyer and seller beware”, a fair method to do our business by? I don't think so. I believe that we are the experts and it is our responsibility to be ethical.

Here is my standard and I can assure you that I sleep well at night. If a person asks me the value of any antique or painting I must give them an honest answer to the best of my ability. Then, it is perfectly okay for me to say that I can't pay that for it because I still must make a profit when it is sold. So let’s assume that a painting is worth $10,000 retail. I feel that a $5000 offer is within the realm of reason but if you offered $500 for it I would take exception. I also always tell the person where they can check what I have shared with them pertaining to value, so that they aren't totally dependent on me for the value. The only time I vary from this is if an item is already being offered to the world and I haven't been asked about it. Under those circumstances I feel that I have the right to purchase it at the asking price.

Over the years I have been confronted by many people in this industry but I have the same answer for each of them. I have to be true to the people even if it is at my own cost. EBay was one of my first targets because they were being unfair to the average person. I had many individuals say “Why don't you mind your own business” as eBay continued to escalate their prices to where they were often making more money than the seller. Not wanting to stop there they even bought their competition, PayPal and Pro Stores, so they could have a greater strangle hold on the market. But I warned that there has never been a market that wouldn't adjust itself if it became too unfair. Meg Whitman must have realized that too because she left at the peak, leaving the hot potato in the lap of her replacement. I now say that, due to their past sins, their future is bleak if there aren't major changes to their business plan.

Next it was to the Auction Houses . When I began going to auctions, the fee was 5% to the seller and nothing to the buyer. They considered themselves service companies but that has changed over the years. First it was 10% and then 15% but still this wasn't enough so today we have auctions charging the seller up to 27.5% commission while charging the buyer 25%. If my math is correct that is 52.5%. They no longer are a service company but your partner. Yes, they deserve fair compensation, but I consider this grand larceny. I believe it is about time we, the public, told the auction houses to go and find their own merchandise to sell.

Not wanting to be unfair and leave anyone out, I then began to write about antique malls and shops. They didn't take my articles as flattery. First, the malls have become, as a general rule, just storehouses for garage sale merchandise. If the dealers do run across something that a true collector would desire to own, they send it to auction. I am laughing all over again. Entering a mall in the front showcase were items that the dealer had listed on eBay. I asked the owner why I was there and he answered, “I don't know.” My response to him was that if all I could buy in his mall was what the dealer didn't want to put on eBay why didn't I just stay at home and bid from there. I left him with a startled look on his face but I believe I got my point across. This is the same situation with regard to the antique shops. Are you beginning to understand why I am so unpopular?

You know I really don't care what others think of me as long as I can live with myself and the way I conduct my business. You see I am one of you and all I ask is to be treated fairly. I hope that some of the people I have written about don't have a carton of eggs.

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