Selling Art At Auction: What EVERY Seller Should Know

Selling Art at Auction: What EVERY Seller Should Know


You may have heard people complaining about the cost of selling an artwork particularly at auction but before you form an opinion it is important for you to know exactly what fees are involved in selling at auction and what you get for your money. The fees that you are charged by auction houses pay for services such as:


-Appraisal of items value by an expert

-Analysis of condition, provenance, authenticity

-Promotion of auction

-Auctioneers fees

-Established client base

-Catalogue production

-Venue hire, catering, auction staff


Some auction houses may charge extra for some of these services on top of the percentage of the sale price so check with the auction house before making any commitments.


To give you an example of the type of fees to expect I have included the sellers fee schedule for Bonhams UK below:


All UK Salerooms:

On the first £2000 15%

Thereafter 10%

The first thing I am sure that you will notice is that the fee is higher for the lower priced items. The reason for this is that the auction houses need to have a minimum charge per item in order to recover costs so a higher percentage needs to be charged for the lower priced items to meet the minimum charge.

The sellers fees are not too bad compared to the buyers fees which are usually upwards of 20% of the sale price. It is extremely important to take the buyers fees into consideration when selling an artwork for the reason that in order for the artwork to sell for its market value the buyer will have to pay 20% above the market value to secure the work which for lower priced works may not be feasible or worth while for the buyer unless it is something of particular interest to that buyer. So what does all this mean for you?? All will be revealed next post…


Nick**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

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