Although auctions date back millennia, they not only remain relevant today as a way of conducting business, but as up to date as ever.
The Romans settled the throny issue of the Empire’s succession by literally lotting it up in its entirety and selling it off to the highest bidder. The lucky winner was Marcus Didius Julianus, who won the prize in AD 133. Luck soon turned against him, though, when the Senate condemned him nine weeks later after his rival – and successor – Severus got the upper hand.
From antique furniture to NFTs, fine art and collectables have always found a happy home at auction. In recent years, as technology has widened its scope considerably, the auction process has been applied to everything from imports confiscated by customs to nuclear power stations.
As an auctioneer myself, I have always been committed to the process, but I have often wondered who else is, so in the past few days I checked by using a simple Google search.
Here are a few of the things I found being offered at auction: a First Class Seat (not a ticket for it but the seat itself) from an aeroplane; a guest role in the TV series Doc Martin; an abandoned chateau in the South of France (sold for just €205,000!); the Porsche used by Tom Cruise in the film Risky Business ($1.8m!); and a First Edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (over $1m!).
My favourite article, though, was an opinion column on whether cricket teams should scrap the toss at the beginning of matches because it gave too much of an advantage to the winner. Instead, it suggested, teams should bid against each other, awarding each other runs for the privilege of choosing who should bat first. The highest offer would effectively win ‘the toss’.