Sotheby's (BID) - Get Sotheby's Report and Christie's, the two venerable auction houses known for holding highbrow bidding contests for everything from celebrity memorabilia to fine art, have agreed to pay $512 million to settle charges that they colluded to cheat customers through a price-fixing scheme, The New York Times reported on its Web site Friday night.

The settlement, which the


said was one of the biggest in antitrust history, comes as the

Justice Department

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is working to complete it's three-year criminal investigation into the auction houses' practices.

Sotheby's former chairman, A. Alfred Taubman, and Diana D. Brooks, its former CEO, may have to contribute to the settlement payment, the newspaper's Web site reported. Both quit Sotheby's in February and are currently under investigation from the government, the report said.

The two auction houses will also have to pay for contacting the 120,000 buyers and sellers that they allegedly cheated by colluding to stifle competition among the houses. That, along with other administrative costs, could add up to almost $1 million alone, the