At least three serious candidates for the takeover of Drouot-SA regrouping some 70 auctioning offices have made sensible offers during the second half of January.
The reform of the auctioning profession in France has created a strong incentive among financial groups regarding the control of the Drouot salesrooms and its weekly magazine “La Gazette de l'Hôtel Drouot”, now rich with some 60,000 suscribers.
Pierre Bergé, head of the Yves Saint-Laurent Haute Couture group, was the first to make a firm offer last month for Drouot with a view of achieving unity among the Paris auctioning groups, which urgently need to yield forces in order to resist the challenge of Anglo-Saxon auction houses now allowed to hold sales in the French capital.
However, Bergé is no longer the only one interested in Drouot following offers made by Barclays Equity France and the Rothschild and Company bank based in London and headed by David de Rothschild.
Gonzague de Blignières, head of the board of Barclays Equity France (BPE), said he was only interested in acquiring Drouot S.A while Bergé's aim is to bring the 70 auctioning groups under his wing.
The choice that Parisian auctioneers have to make seems quite hard since
the ambitions of the candidates for the take-over of Drouot are not heading in the same direction. On the one side, Pierre Bergé offers the stature of a man who has nurtured a great passion for art but he is known to be quite inflexible as a manager. On the other side, the financial groups interested in Drouot S.A might simply have a leaning for results meaning that they would not adopt a human approach vis-à-vis auctioneers who have been used to working according to old-fashioned rules notwithstanding the fact that they have gained the reputation of forming a motley collection living in a kind of Tower of Babel, thus lacking unity.