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The Morning After Gotham Book Mart’s Auction

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Yesterday’s auction by Gotham Book Mart gets serious coverage from the New York Times and the NY Post this morning. And even though the line of prospective bargain hunters went around the block before the auction’s 11 AM opening, in the end all the property that was auctioned went to the building’s landlord for $400,000. The store’s owner, 74 year old Andreas Brown, got teary while removing books from the shelves in his office. He left before the auction began. “It’s a bit like interviewing me at my own funeral,” said Brown, who has a penchant for quoting Mark Twain, to the New York Times.

But some people wonder if the auction was, if not rigged, at least set up as more of a smokescreen. Reports the Fine Books & Collections blog, “the rushed sale, held with only two days’ public notice, now seems as if it were intended all along to ensure that the landlord would acquire the contents. Inside, the books were arranged in group lots with titles like “wall of books” and in stacks of boxes that were virtually impossible to inspect during the 90 minute pre-sale period.” The Post also collected some disgruntled quotes. “If you’re going to have a proper auction, you open for a month,” complained Dave Roochvarg, a book collector who met his wife at Gotham. “Nobody knows the value of it, because nobody’s got to look at it. There was no way in an hour.” Brian Bilby, a book dealer, said he could think of only two words to describe the scene: “sad spectacle.”

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