California state law AB 259, chapter 1170 1861.608 (h) Cause or allow any person to bid at a sale for the sole purpose of increasing the bid on any item or items being sold by the auctioneer, except as authorized by Section 2328 of the Commercial Code or by this title. A violation of this subdivision includes, but is not limited to, either of the following: (1) Stating any increased bid greater than that offered by the last highest bidder when, in fact, no person has made such a bid. (2) Allowing the owner, consignor, or agent thereof, of any item or items to bid on the item or items, without disclosing to the audience that the owner, consignor, or agent thereof has reserved the right to so bid. A violation of this subdivision is an infraction subject to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100). I would put money on it that Chandelier bidding breaches section 1 and shill bidding definitely breaches section 2 but a $100 fine is hardly going to stop any auction house from practicing either art, especially the first which is effectively impossible to detect. Could an auction house not simply use a non existent phone bidder as the patsy? New York state law is "The NYC Municipal Code also requires auctioneers to make such “disclosure . . . on signs prominently displayed in the auction room and at the entrance thereto, and . . . announced by the auctioneer immediately prior to the commencement of any auction.” The Code is explicit about the sign requirements and contents, stating it must be: [A]t least 12 inches by 18 inches in dimension with letters at least one inch high, and must read as follows, or convey a substantially similar disclosure: The auctioneer may open bidding on any lot by placing a bid on behalf of the seller. The auctioneer may further bid on behalf of the seller, up to the amount of the reserve, by placing successive or consecutive bids for a lot, or by placing bids in response to other bidders." Goodings specifically notes "RESERVES Unless otherwise specified in the catalogue or announced at the Auction, the Vehicles will be offered subject to a reserve, which is the minimum amount that the Seller is willing to accept with regard to the respective Vehicle. Reserves are confidential and will not exceed the low presale estimate. Gooding may act to protect the reserve by bidding through the Auctioneer, who may open bidding below the reserve by placing a bid on behalf of the Seller, place bids on behalf of the Seller up to the reserve amount, place bids in response to other bidders or if the opening bid is below the reserve can elect to withdraw the Vehicle from bidding. The Auctioneer shall not be obligated to specifically identify bids placed on behalf of the Seller to protect the reserve nor will he place a bid on behalf of the Seller at or above the reserve. Sellers may not bid on Vehicles they have consigned to Gooding without prior announcement at the Auction." Bonhams notes "4.2 If a Lot is offered subject to a Reserve, Bonhams may implement such Reserve by the Auctioneer’s bidding on behalf of the Seller, whether by opening bidding or continuing bidding in response to other bidders, until reaching the Reserve. If Bonhams has an interest in a Lot and the sale proceeds therefrom other than its commissions and fees, the Auctioneer may bid therefor to protect such interest. Sellers are not allowed to bid on their own Lots." RMs website offers no guide to their use of chandelier bidding and neither did their Monterey catalog but its assumed they are the same. So thats a yes to using chandelier bidding pretty much everywhere........ Even where its not strictly legal.