"Nothing Harold French
did cost a purchaser a dollar more than they would have paid or was anything other than an attempt to help procure the minimum reserve price on behalf of the seller," Lehmann said.
Criminal charges of collusive bidding and conspiracy are pending against French, who has been an auctioneer for 35 years.
The board reprimanded French
, 53, and put him on probation for a year after finding that he
bid $9,500 on a nautical painting at a 2009 auction to help auctioneer Stephen Bennett meet the minimum bid price of $10,000.
No one bid higher and French
claimed that rendered his
The board concluded French
never intended to purchase the painting and sanctioned him for deceiving other bidders.
The board also suspended Bennett's license for 90 days and placed him on probation for two years.
The vintage oil painting was done by American artist S. F. M. Badger, who died in 1913.
The painting's owner set the reserve at $10,000 and would not lift it prior to the start of bidding.
According to court documents, Bennett asked French
to bid on the painting if the reserve was not met.