I had considered writing an article to advertise this auction, and now I’m so glad I didn’t.
Barneys, the high-end department store in New York, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019. They had an in-house photography studio, presumably to shoot their products. I was pretty excited for the auction and hoped I’d be able to get some used gear at bargain prices.
Here were the strict rules:
- A credit card needed to be validated in advance.
- All sales were final.
- Payment had to be made the following business day in full.
- Cashier's check or wire transfer only.
- Item needs to be picked up ASAP from Queens, NY.
- Tax at 8.875%.
- 18% auctioneers fee.
On December 4th, the live auction began. I had pre-bid on a few C-stands, and my bid would be honored until somebody outbid me. Unfortunately, it seems like bidders were getting a little carried away. Here’s the good and the awful deals that took place. Bear in mind that all dollar figures have nearly 30% added on top.
The Bad Deals
My bids versus the winning bids.
I had my eye on these C-Stands. Without a knuckle, they sell for $109 each on B&H. I was perhaps willing to pay $150 for three, but somebody paid $325! That’s only a $2 saving off the retail price, and they still have auctioneer's fees to worry about (so about $385 pre-tax). What’s worse is that other lots of C-Stands sold for less. Somebody got carried away.A bidder paid $550 for a Canon 7D. Not the Mark II, the original. According to LensAuthority and eBay, this should have sold for around $250.
Whoever bought a LowePro backpack for $100 should have checked B&H, where the newer version goes for $10 less.
$525 of somebody’s hard earned money was spent on the original Canon 5D. Did they mistake it for the Mark II? It’s surely worth less than half that, and eBay seems to confirm this.
The Good Deals
Need to clamp one thing to another? “Wimberley The Plamp II” is available on B&H for $43, but somebody got 11 of them for just $100.
In general, the TVs went for a good price. Here’s a 40” Samsung TV that was sold for $70.
Profoto’s D1 AIR 1000 Ws monolight retails for $1,875, but the highest bid on one was $750. Some people got them for as low as $600. That’s such a good deal I feel like I’m missing something.
Brand new, a Manfrotto 475B tripod costs $350. Three of them were sold for $175.
If you got a good deal on Profoto gear, then you might want a case. A bidder picked up two Profoto studio cases for $45, when they sell for $160 each brand new.
My favorite deal is this huge white cyclone wall, which was picked up for $10. A steal, but I hope the winner knew how they were going to pick it up.
Even though there were some gems in there, the vast majority sold for more than it ought to have. Bidders didn’t know the condition of the products they were buying (like the shutter count), and the 18% fee negates most of the deals. If they went to a secondhand market, they’d get a better deal and not need to adhere to auction rules. It seems this was the crossroads between Gear Acquisition Syndrome and panic buying.
Still though, I’m sorry to see Barneys go under. It seems that their other sales haven’t gone so well either. Being a retail icon doesn’t mean you can shake off overpriced products.
Feel free to check out the rest of the photography listings, mixed in with the alterations department. You won’t be able to see the final bid price unless you create an account. If you spot any deals that I missed, post them in the comments below.
Lead image credit: rblfmr via Shutterstock.