Over August, Art and Auction magazine have been running a series of articles by Judd Tully, looking at the ins and outs of buying art at auction:
Salesroom Confidential - are you in the skybox, the 10th row, or the B room? how do you read the bidding? are you interested in bottomfishing (buying a work after the sale)?
Covert operations - chandelier, shill and ring bidding explained.
Snaps, signals and signs - what did that arched eyebrow mean?
The article is accompanied by a nifty photo gallery, with cartoon portraits and written sketches of the major auction house figures. For example:
Jussi Pylkkanen, President of Christie's Europe, 44, Finnish
Famed for his aristocratic bearing and almost snobby delivery. Can at times be agonizingly slow, due in part to the spike in phone bidding, although lately has speeded up his march through ever-larger London sales. Style: a tad pompous and some say patronizing, but with the boyish enthusiasm to get the job done.
Tobias Meyer, worldwide head of contemporary art, Sotheby's, 44, Austrian
Cool, poised, glamorous face of Sotheby’s. Although not everyone warms to his imperial style, undeniably a pro, cutting a trim figure at the podium, announcing bid increments with a Teutonic crispness while keeping the body language simple. Style: strong and confident if a bit impatient at the rostrum.
Images: From the Art and Auction photo gallery. From top to bottom: cutting the bid; Henry wyndham, Sotheby's; Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's.