02/04/2013 09:29 am ET

Battling To Keep Auction Sellers Anonymous

New York's highest court has decided to review a recent ruling that could force the state's auction industry to end its longstanding practice of keeping sellers' names anonymous.

Most sellers in the New York auction market remain anonymous, and auction catalogs typically reveal little more than that a work is from a "private collection." The court did not rule that auction houses had to publicize widely the name of a seller, only that buyers are entitled to know it. Buyers -- themselves often people who anonymously sell items at auction -- have seldom complained about the practice, while sellers have come to expect their identities to be shielded.