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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 17:24 GMT
Auction house cases dropped
Lord Hindlip, Christies chairman
Christies in New York auctioned a Marilyn Monroe dress in 1999
Lawsuits alleging that auction houses Christies and Sothebys conspired to overcharge for auctions held outside the US have been thrown out.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan threw out three anti-trust lawsuits brought by eight people who had bought or sold items through auctions outside the US.

Judge Kaplan said that the US law which banned monopolisation of trade, the Sherman Act, could not be applied in this case.

The auction houses could be punished for overcharging in the US, he said.

But those unhappy with the firms' overseas activity would need to show it had "direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable effects" on the US.

The eight people who brought the claims had mainly dealt with Christies or Sothebys in London, although some of the items had been displayed in the US or elsewhere first.

Christies International plc and Sotheby Holdings Inc previously reached a proposed $512m settlement over claims they conspired to keep fees high at US auctions.

A fairness hearing on the settlement is to be held on Friday.

The firms control about 90% of the market for art and collectible auctions.

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05 Oct 00 | Americas
Sotheby's admits 'auction cartel'
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