MEARS caused quite a stir late in 2007 when the evaluation and research company announced plans to force its auction house clients to submit to regular audits and inspections. Actually, the stir was more like a very loud silence.
What had been a significant part of MEARS’ business went away when only one auction house decided to accept the terms and conditions to remain a client. Others chose to formulate their own ‘authentication teams’ or work with others who weren’t asking for an inside look.
Part of the deal that turned some clients off was the audit requirement. Most weren’t willing to let a potential competitor sneak a peek at their books and records. Robert Edward Auctions chose to accept the deal and last Friday, MEARS did show up at REA’s door in New Jersey.
Dave Grob, who penned the ‘my way or the highway’ requirements, was given access to REA’s records and did a random search of lots in that company’s spring 2008 auction. No irregularities turned up, which isn’t surprising considering REA’s reputation but now that MEARS has entered the auction business themselves, it’s a rather unusual business relationship. Grob spelled out the process in his blog and promises that his own business partners will be subjected to an independent audit sometime this year.
Apparently, no other companies have signed on with MEARS for 2009 so the audit/compliance trips will be short and sweet, but it would be nice to see more outside monitoring of auctions in some shape or form. The sports memorabilia hobby still has an air of suspicion around it at times and if there were a little more accountability maybe the feds wouldn’t find it necessary to spend their summer weekends walking the halls of the National.