Voices in an Audience – the shill and auctioneer dynamic
You could almost tell who was a shill in the audience. If you knew the auctioneer used them. They were first in the room, last one out, and somehow their bids were always seen. No matter how crowded the room was. All it took was someone making note of the last legit bid and the auction house could call them afterwards and say the other bid fell thru. Did they still want the item?
The shill never took anything out of the house, except maybe an envelope? If you didn’t know, you might see them as instructions for picking up their item. But they never seemed to be in the cashier line. And don’t most auction houses say you have to pay that day? How many auction houses deliver?
And on the website for the auction house, they were posting delicious reports about items they supposedly bought, or service they supposedly received. Doing anything they could to up the rep points of the house and the auctioneers.And doing anything they could to minimize or defuse disquiet. To shut down trolling. If an auction house used shills, they had incredibly positive reports on their sites, and not much else.
That is how you could tell a shill existed in their social stratosphere. And you could tell it was Joe, because he was well reputed as one of the better shills in the game. He had a few houses paying him. He needed no other income, he was that good.
Only other shills could figure out that he might be one too. But then they knew what to look for. And they could only guesstimate. Those who knew for sure were the ones paying his salary.
Joe went on any web site or sale as an old-school gentleman. He was a friend to all and enemy to none. He spoke politely and firmly about his houses. About how great they were and deserving of his patronage. But then he got tips for creating a good environ on their sites. You’d almost swear the owner of the house was writing his script. Except Joe had a past as a marketeer, copy ad man. So he was very good at what he said. The owner just gave him talking points and left it in Joe’s hands. And Joe gathered the most friends on his profiles. Of course, he had more than one! Did you think otherwise?
So Joe had a secure revenue stream. And he quite enjoyed the auction-shill game. He got to enjoy his antiques and high-end art. And the crowds that went to those places too, without Joe spending a dime. Looking like a bigwig. It was a perfect life for him. He fit it admirably.