03 September 2021
Crédit Municipal: discreet but surprisingly powerful
At nearly 400 years old, “Ma Tante” (“Auntie”), as Crédit Municipal is often called, is in excellent shape.
Par Marie-Laure Cassius-Duranton.
Alongside the traditional auction houses, Crédit Municipal holds around a hundred auctions per year in Paris alone, mainly of antique or pre-owned jewelry and watches. In 2020, these sales generated over 10.6 million euros. By comparison, Artcurial’s jewelry and watch sales made 12.3 million euros, while Christie’s Paris jewelry sales raised 8.6 million euros, as against 8.3 million euros for those of Sotheby’s Paris.
The Credit Municipal, former Mont de Piété
This public institution of the City of Paris (the sole shareholder since 1992) is based on the principle of pawnbroking: loans secured by objects of value. When you go to Crédit Municipal, your object is appraised and estimated according to its potential value at public auction. Based on that appraisal, you are granted a loan of between 50% and 70% of the value. If you do not repay the loan, your object is sold at auction. Crédit Municipal, originally called Mont-de-Piété, was created in 1637 by Théophraste Renaudot, a philanthropist, physician to King Louis XIII and friend of Cardinal de Richelieu. It did not become Crédit Municipal until 1918, when it developed its banking activities alongside pawnbroking.
A growing success
Among these hundreds of sales, the weekly sales are particularly popular with professionals. Meanwhile, the “prestige” weekend sales, held several times a year, are increasingly popular with the general public. The interest is due in particular to the judicial sale fees (i.e. constraints) of 14.40% that are particularly low compared to those of voluntary sales, which range from 20 to 30% of the auction price. But it is probably also due to the general impression buyers have of doing good business there. However, this is not always the case, and prices can soar!
Crédit Municipal’s best sales
Crédit Municipal has held some very fine sales, such as the one in 2011 featuring a series of exceptional pieces signed by Van Cleef & Arpels, including a ring adorned with a 35.35-carat emerald, probably Colombian, that went for €180,000, and a platinum and diamond necklace that fetched €131,000. Other items that delighted buyers were a gold, yellow sapphire and citrine ring by Suzanne Belperron and a “Roi de Surgilie” pendant designed by Victoire de Castellane for Dior that sold for €131,000. JAR pieces are also regularly on offer. The latest coup was in June when a Patek Philippe Nautilus estimated at €8,000-12,000 fetched €51,000. Definitely worth keeping an eye on!