Published: April 30, 2002
in Price-Fixing Scandal
NEW YORK CITY (AP) – Former Sotheby’s chief executive Diana Brooks was sentenced to six months of home detention on Monday, April 28, for her role in a price-fixing scheme with a rival auction house.
She also was ordered to pay a $350,000 fine and serve 1,000 hours of community service.
Brooks, the first woman to head a major auction house and one of the most powerful figures in the art world over the past decade, pleaded guilty in October 2000 to fixing commission prices and fees with rival Christie’s.
At sentencing, she apologized in a shaky voice to “all the people I’ve hurt. I will forever bear the burden of what I’ve done.”
US District Judge George Daniels called Brooks’ decision to plead guilty and cooperate with authorities “self-serving.”
“Although your decision to cooperate was the right one, it was not a noble gesture motivated by a guilty conscience,” Daniels said.
Brooks’ sentencing comes a week after former Sotheby’s chairman A. Alfred Taubman was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $7.5 million for his part in the scam. Brooks agreed to testify against Taubman in hopes of avoiding a three-year prison sentence.
The scheme by top management meant that antiques dealers and others selling personal belongings paid inflated commissions for nearly a decade. From April 1993 until February 2000, Sotheby’s made more than $225 million from seller’s commissions, court documents say.
Taubman was convicted in December 2001 of conspiracy to violate antitrust laws for teaming up with former Christie’s chairman Anthony Tennant, of Andover, England, to set nonnegotiable commission prices.
Tennant has refused to come to the United States for trial. He cannot be extradited on antitrust charges.
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