According to Levin, in most instances, withdrawals generally won’t show up on any public database, and even if they do, it likely won’t have any substantial effect on the work’s valuation for future sales. For example, if an artwork is withdrawn over a question of authenticity and is later determined to be authentic, it can usually return to auction with negligible damage incurred on its resale value. If the lot was withdrawn because of a title dispute between a couple amid a divorce proceeding, the withdrawal has little to do with the work itself, so the value will likely not be affected if the work is offered at auction down the line. On the other end of the spectrum, however, is if an artwork is withdrawn due to condition concerns or damage during transit. In this case, the work’s worth will have to be reevaluated.
Levin did, however, point out that as an advisor, he would never simply give anything the benefit of the doubt. “I do not take things off the basis of good faith,” he said. “I would do the research and use my 40 years of contacts to find out why the piece was withdrawn.” If a collector is looking to acquire a piece but there is concern over the nature of a previous auction withdrawal, art advisors can provide valuable intel on the details of the withdrawal that is unavailable to the general public.
In terms of the effect that a withdrawn lot might have on the value of an artist’s other works, the chances of decreased value are typically minimal—unless, as art advisor Alex Glauber explained, an artist doesn’t have a developed secondary market and the withdrawn lot was one of the first works to come to auction. “This doesn’t bode well for the suggestion that there is a robust resale market,” Glauber explained. But if a work by an established artist is withdrawn due to quality issues, for instance, another work by the same artist that is in prime condition would not be affected.