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During the last six months, there has been much discussion in the general and arts media about the manifestation of problematic practices within the Australian art auction market. Although the nature of these practices has been scrutinised, scant attention has been paid to how the methods and mechanisms employed by auction houses to build business during the art market boom that commenced in the late 1990s might represent a force that could undermine the sustainability of the market. Fundamental to this is quantifying the extent to which auction houses are able to influence market development. In this paper, I present empirical evidence that suggests that major Australian auction houses can exert significant control over buyer behaviour and price formation.
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