Now that C2E2 is over, I’ve had some time to digest the events of the past week. It was a busy one as you can imagine. There were tons of press interviews to schedule, in addition to arranging deliveries/pickups, preparing the auction room and organizing our bidders. In the middle of the cyclone of chaos, we also held a panel discussion on the eve of the auction. It was billed as a Hollywood Treasure panel, but the topics discussed were very much relevant to the memorabilia and collectibles industry.
On stage were the cast of Hollywood Treasure–Joe Maddalena, Brian Chanes, Tracey McCall, Jon Mankuta–and Stacey Roman, our auctioneer. The questions from the audience were astute and poignant. The answers were equally thought provoking. I won’t rehash everything that was talked about, but I do want to bring up one thing that was discussed and that was the concept of auctions as peer review. Brian actually brought up this idea. I believe that the question that prompted this was, how do we go about verifying provenance? Brian’s response was the usual: ascertaining sales history, following the paper trail, consulting experts, etc, etc…
Then Brian cited the fact that the culmination of our research is summed up in our catalog descriptions. We send out 6,000 catalogs worldwide and published every one of our auction catalogs online for anyone and everyone to review. We also offer preview of the items prior to the auction. Moreover, we are a recognizable company with a listed telephone number, email and website. Anyone is welcome to contact us with questions, concerns or comments. In essence, we put everything out in the open that is pertinent to the item and does not infringe on client confidentiality, making this process a type of peer review much like what is done in the scientific community.
In fact, I know that there are forums and blogs that talk about our catalogs and auctions. The discourse and discussion that take place is great for our industry. Transparency is a good thing. However, what is counterproductive are discussions based on groundless accusations and meritless insinuations. I can say with confidence that many of the people that engage in these discussions that take place in private forums do not get their information directly from Profiles. I would know because I would be the one addressing these inquiries. A simple phone call or email could actually clear up a lot of things.
This makes one wonder why we are not approached directly. If there are legitimate concerns, then why not go to the source? Like I’ve said, there are numerous ways to contact us. It makes you question the motives of those doing the finger pointing. Also suspect is that there are private forums, where comments are routinely edited by moderators. Is this not the antithesis of transparency? If community policing is so important, then shouldn’t everything be out in the open?
Unfortunately, this business is also about acquisition and that means information is gold. If you are armed with better info, then you are better positioned to acquire an item than your competition. Equally effective is disinformation. Normally I would not even entertain this notion, but I’ve heard about collusion by some collectors who enter into non-compete agreements for things at auction. This kind of back alley activities is infuriating considering that we are often accused of so many things by our detractors. Yet, here I am declaring Profiles’s open door policy, as opposed to closed forums where shady handshakes take place.