How Ineichen Auctioneers is Changing the Rules in the Auction World
With the relaunch of the venerable Zürich-based auction house, Ineichen Auctioneers, CEO Artemy Lechbinsky and his team breathe new life into traditional auction rules, including offering 33% of the shares in Ineichen Zürich AG for bidding until mid-August 2022.
In 2021, Ineichen Auctioneers started to create a strong and recognizable identity for itself with its themed auctions, including up to fifty lots. Ineichen also began to engage more online than in-person bidders.
Indeed, there is little doubt that the “Shades of Grey,” “Alchemy of Gold,” “La Vie en Rose,” and “Precious Blues” auctions have represented a shift in the traditional auction world, which rarely strays from its beloved seasonal sales, bloated catalogs, and two half-day bidding sessions.
More concentrated and more niche, the catalogs of Ineichen’s themed auctions are none-the-less more varied than one would expect. As a result, auction results show that each themed auction has attracted an increasing number of bidders from all over the world.
Then, in May 2022 with the, Ineichen Auctioneers hosted its “Royal 50” auction, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and became the first auction house ever to not charge a buyer’s premium.
However, right before the “Royal 50” auction, a special sale called “The New Co-Owner” offered 0.5% of the total shares in Ineichen Auctioneers to the winning bidder. It sold for CHF 210,000.
Over the past few months, we have had the privilege of sitting down several times with Ineichen Auctioneers’ CEO Artemy Lechbinsky a couple of times to ask him about his strategy and his wish for a more transparent market for bidders as well as sellers.
Canceling Buyer’s Premiums & Attracting Sellers
Located in Zürich, Switzerland, in a historic building that is also home to the Metropole Hotel, Ineichen Auctioneers’ offices have a kind of 19th century charm to them.
However, once you start speaking with Ineichen’s CEO, Artemy Lechbinsky, you slowly begin to understand that there is an auction revolution on the horizon, and it will emanate from the walls of this venerable Zürich institution.
“We didn’t set out to change the rules, but we wanted to make buying and selling items at an auction a clearer, more effective processes,” said Lechbinsky, commenting on the motivation behind Ineichen Auctioneers’ new strategy.
In many ways, the format of Ineichen’s themed auctions developed in a way that is easy to understand. By only listing up to 50 items in a catalog unified by a single theme (i.e., rose gold cases, blue dials, or Royal Oak models), Ineichen doesn’t overload potential bidders resulting in more bids and happier sellers.
Then, Ineichen decided it would no longer charge the traditional buyer’s premium for items sold at its auctions. And it is a genuine game-changer. So why take such an unprecedented step? “[The buyer’s premium] is a traditional revenue stream for auction houses,” explained Lechbinsky. “But it’s more important to keep sellers interested in consigning and bidders bidding than to focus on the bidder footing more of the bill.”
As the quality of recent auctions lots can attest, another important aspect of Ineichen Auctioneers’ strategy relies on its sourcing of rare and relevant pieces. And the trust Ineichen has established with major players all over the world is definitely part of its current success. “We definitely need to offer better way to collaborate with partners as sourcing is key and in a competitive market,” said Lechbinsky. “We can only be more attractive than our competitors.”
Finally, despite the charming Metropole Salon located just next door (where Ineichen Auctioneers hosts in-person auctions), buyers live mostly online now. So, to contain costs, Ineichen is relying on more of an online auction model than a physical one.
Capital Opening to Consolidated
On May 28th, 2022, when Ineichen auctioned 0.5% of the total share capital for CHF 210,000 (approx. $216,000), it gave the company a valuation.
So, as a result of this success, a month long sale called “The New Co-Owner(s)” that started July 20th and will run until August 20th, a total of 33% of Ineichen Zurich AG are up for auction. And although a bit larger than Ineichen’s themed auctions, the catalog for “The New Co-Owner(s)” auction is pretty straightforward: There are sixty-six lots, and each offers 0.5% of the total share capital. The bidding for each lot starts at CHF 210,000 and each bidder can create their own package of any amounts of lots illustrating the share percentage they are ready to buy.
With more themed auctions in the pipeline and more initiatives to come, there is no doubt in our minds that watch connoisseurs should seriously consider becoming an Ineichen Auctioneers shareholder. Or, at the very least, they should not take their eyes off the auction house over the next few months.
(Photograpy by Pierre Vogel)