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Auctioneer attempts to halt non-paying bidders
By Eric C. Rodenberg

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Among the top tier of U.S. auction houses, Julien’s Auctions has – what could be called – one of the highest worldwide profiles.

Specializing in entertainment memorabilia, Julien’s Auctions have hosted many of the most renowned sales in the 21st century, including Hollywood memorabilia from The Collection of Cher to Barbra Streisand; rock memorabilia from Madonna to U2 to Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. His sales of Beatles memorabilia have included personal items from John Lennon and George Harrison.

Founder and CEO Darren Julien can be called a master of publicity and marketing. In part, he has gained access to such exclusive consignors by mounting crowd-drawing exhibitions and auctions throughout Asia, South America, Europe and the United States.

Simply stated, Julien’s is an auction business success story for the 21st century. The company was formed in 2000. During the course of its growth, the 43-year-old Julien recognized the unlimited potential that live Internet auctions could have on his auction house. Within that span of time, he worked with all of the Internet live auction providers, including eBay, LiveAuctioneers, Artfact and others.

Julien understood that he needed to integrate his auction house with the World Wide Web, he just never cared for how such bidding platforms integrated with Julien’s Auction.

“They all have their own policies we had to adhere to, and that was problematic,” Julien said. “They all withhold essential information we need to work with, and you’re just not in control of your own business.

“We’ve used almost all of them. We found that Artfact brought in more high-end clients. We still use them on some specific markets.”

But the non-paying bidders – “winning” as much as 30 percent of the auction items – were one big reason Julien had his own platform built nearly eight years ago. Another reason was that Julien discovered that the online auction providers – including LiveAuctioneers and Artfact – were marketing online “his clients” to competitors.

“They all do that; they capture the registered bidder data – much of which they don’t share with the auction house. Then, they turn around and use the bidder list from your last auction to promote an upcoming auction for a competitor,” he said.

The facilitating Internet auction providers use the emails cultivated from its auction house clients to further boost its bidder base when marketing its program to auctioneers. Not only is it misleading, Julien claims, but it harms auction houses.

“One thing, they saturate the market,” he said. “And it’s detrimental to the auction houses. We do all this marketing to draw clients into our auction. They, then, take that information, and use it say, the next month, for an auction they’re hosting for one of your competitors. I’ve used them all; and they all do it.”

Now, that Julien Auctions has invested time and money into marketing and promoting auctions in Asia, South America and Europe, he is not about to share his bidder list with another auction house.

He guards his bidder list as proprietary information, calling it a prominent asset.

“We have the largest list of good, solid bidders – all around the world,” Julien said. That’s our proprietary information. That protects us, and it protects our buyers. We have direct access to credit card information. We have specific protocol for new bidders. We have been all over the world, and many of these top buyers we personally know.

“And those buyers aren’t getting spammed for every little auction hosted by providers. That protects us, our sellers and our bidders.”

Having a specific company platform built costs between $30,000 and $80,000 depending on how detailed you want to get,” Julien said.

But it is money well spent, he said. He controls his own bidder list and said that non-paying bidders now comprise 1-2 percent of auctions.

Contact: (310) 836-1818

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