Mastro Auctions took the unusual step of sending out an e-mail to its customers Thursday, offering a newly-created "code of conduct" for itself.
Mastro Auctions latest catalog sale brought in nearly $15 million, but the company has also faced some questions lately regarding its policies on restoration, bids coming from within the company and its use of authenticators. In response, President Doug Allen issued the following e-mail outlining a new set of guidelines he says the company will follow beginning later this year:
When it comes to business ethics and integrity, Mastro Auctions has operated ever since its inception under the premise that actions speak louder than words. We thought, perhaps naively, that that was enough. I have talked to a lot of customers over the last few months, both at the National Convention and through my travels, and have come to the conclusion that our customers, in fact, expect more.
As the hobby continues to evolve and new concerns plague our industry, the time to assume a proactive stance has arrived. To that end, Mastro Auctions is taking our unwritten code of professional conduct to the next level by enhancing the code and memorializing it in writing (see below). This act of leadership is not required by law or by the industry, but it represents the high standards of commitment and responsibility that Mastro Auctions has always embodied.
Since we just missed our deadline for the October Classic sale to make this announcement, this code will appear in and be in full effect for our December Premium Catalog sale. As always, we greatly value your support and assistance. By working proactively as a team, we can make a difference in the hobby we all enjoy today — and ensure that it is headed in the right direction for future enthusiasts.
Sincerely yours, Doug Allen
President & COO
Mastro Auctions Code of Professional Conduct
1. Disclosure of Ownership
Mastro Auctions allows employees, authenticators, the Mastro Auctions corporate entity and other third party affiliates to own and consign items in Mastro Auctions’ sales. Mastro Auctions will disclose in its catalogs which items are owned by any of the aforementioned parties. PLEASE NOTE: The definition of ownership extends to spouses and immediate family members associated with the aforementioned groups.
2. Mastro Auctions Employee Bidding Rules
Certain Mastro Auctions employees are also collectors, and, similar to the practices followed by other major auction houses (e.g. Sotheby’s, Christies, etc.) are permitted to bid in Mastro Auctions sales. The following restrictions have been placed on the bidding practices of employee(s) to ensure fairness for all auction participants: · Mastro Auctions employees do not have access to ceiling or “top-all” bids. One designated administrative employee will have access to this information for the sole purpose of responding to bidding questions or for correcting bid errors. That designated individual will not be allowed to bid in the auction. · Mastro Auctions employees, the Mastro Auctions corporate entity, and all third party affiliates (authenticators, service providers, etc.) are considered related parties. These related parties are prohibited from bidding on each other’s consigned items. PLEASE NOTE: The definition of the Mastro Auctions “related parties” extends to family members.
3. Disclosure of Restoration
If Mastro Auctions believes or has knowledge that an item has been altered in any way, this information will be fully disclosed in the auction catalog. Occasionally, we will have items restored in order to improve their presentation quality. In these cases, the extent and nature of any restoration will be fully disclosed. Under no circumstances will we have restoration work done on trading cards.
4. Trading Card Guidelines
Mastro Auctions prohibits its employees from altering trading cards. Our policy on altering trading cards is in strict compliance with standards set by all major grading companies.
5. Use of Third Party Authenticators
Mastro Auctions is a company of experts. In almost all of the collecting genres handled by the company, there is an employee on staff who specializes in that area. As a result, before an item ever reaches a third party authenticator, it must first pass our scrutiny. Once an item that requires third party authentication has been accepted by Mastro Auctions, the following process will be employed: for each auction, the catalog will identify approved third party authenticating sources by category. We will not sell an item unless it has been authenticated by one of the listed third party authenticators.
6. Bidding Records
Effective for auctions held in 2007, all Mastro Auctions bidding records are maintained into perpetuity. These records are considered private and confidential. In order to maintain the privacy of our customers’ information, these records will not be voluntarily shared with any third parties.
Meanwhile, one of the game-used equipment market’s top authenticators recently laid down it’s own guidelines for auction houses wishing to use its services, but thus far only one has committed to the new policies set forth by Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services (MEARS).