Buunk, a fourth-year economics student of Erasmus School of Economics, compared the classic English auction system, in which ascending bids are placed, with the less familiar Vickrey auction. In the Vickrey auction, all bidders submit one bid in a closed envelope and the highest bidder wins. If the highest bidder fails to pay, the second highest bidder wins the lot.

Kas Buunk at Fischer's Auctions Kas Buunk at Fischer's Auctions

The two auctions are very similar in terms of resulting revenue, though the English auction price may be marginally higher due to the so-called auction fever. According to Buunk, the Vickrey auction suits the art dealer better: ''The Vickrey system is no clash of bidders, no hammering, pressing and pushing to the highest price possible. Most importantly, the Vickrey system has no theatre that exploits the greed and grudge of human nature. Led by a notary, it is an honest and controlled procedure which is a smooth extension of the discretion and alleged courtesy of the art dealer.''

Joseph Bles, Den Haag 1825-1875 A fair on the Grote Markt in The Hague with St. James Church in the background, oil on panel Joseph Bles, Den Haag 1825-1875 A fair on the Grote Markt in The Hague with St. James Church in the background, oil on panel

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 16.23.38 Cornelis ‘Kees’ Andréa, The Hague 1914-2006 winter landscape with people and animals, oil on canvas 50.4 x 70.4 cm, signed l.v.h.m. and dated 1940

Under certain mathematical assumptions, the two auctions lead to the exact same price. However, the thrill of the live auction can result in a higher price.  For the very reason that mathematically the prices are alike, arguments regarding behavioural economics make all the difference.

Fischer auctions will be putting the theory to the test in their sale this month on 20th September. Former auctioneer and Dutch parliamentary party chairman of D66, Alexander Pechtold, declared his love of the theatre that comes with the traditional English auction; the tension in the auction room, and the feeling of the momentum, in which one can lose oneself in greed. According to Buunk, these are precisely the human characteristics an art dealer shouldn't exploit.

''To secure the integrity of the auction procedure and to exclude the possibility of any abuse of information, the entire auction will be led by an independent notary. After the auction we will only be informed about the identity of the buyer and the selling price.''

In this regard, Fischer's. Auction leads where Buunk argues regular auction houses fall short.

''As the auctioneer himself manages commission bids and the notary merely supervises the bidding process in the auction room, Fischer's auction will render the auctioneer powerless. At traditional auctions, even in the auction room, the notary doesn’t have full control; the auctioneer collects the bids and has the power and incentives to create so-called phantom bids that artificially drive up the price.''

Buunk's theory also suggests that if the second-highest bidder is selected as the winning bid, they should pay half of the buyer's premium in the form of a voucher for the gallery’s collection, as he argues the second-highest bidder forms the price.

Fischer's sale will take place on 20th September. Check out the full catalogue here.

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