The question of Inheritance in Art Auctions: the case of Hotel Drouot (Paris)


Hotel Drouot in Paris, built in 1852, is the leading auctionner in the city, and one of the most representative spaces of the French art market. A vast repertoire of artworks from all periods and all countries is traded everyday: Antiques, modern art, primitive art, urban art, contemporary art, decorative art, Asian art. All these objects made part of French and foreign collectors. Why these objects are traded? Led by “commissaires-priseurs”, whose profession is historically related to the institution of Inheritance and the family’s law, Drouot was deeply transformed. In 1980, the building was reconstructed, and in 2001, a legal reform change the professional status of “commissaires-priseurs”. Hotel Drouot has become a company of traders with an international vocation.  Refering to the history of the institution and the history of some collectors, this research explores how Hotel Drouot transform objects to be inherited into objects to be sell.


Academic Director: Brigitte Derlon
Funding: Scholarship by the Alban Program.
Master thesis, defended in June 2008 in the Laboratory of Social Anthropology. Mention very good (18/20).
Field Interlocutors: Didier Lesnes, Jacques () and Suzanne Cuvillier, Isabelle Kalinowski, Jean-Jacques Fernier.

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