Buying Art at Auction – What Every Buyer Should Know

Buying Art at Auction – What Every Buyer Should Know

Buying art at auction can be an exciting and rewarding experience but it can also be an overwhelming experience that can lead to expensive mistakes. Because the auction environment is usually very emotional and fast paced it is imperative that you do your auction bidderhomework beforehand so that you are informed and prepared. Prior to the auction you should attend the auction preview so that you can see the items in the flesh and purchase a catalogue so that you can decide which works you would like to bid on and conduct the necessary research. Once you have decided on the works you are interested in bidding on you should set yourself a budget that includes the buyers premium so that you avoid over-spending or paying too much for an artwork. To help you come to grips with buying art at auction I have included some crucial information below which you should familiarise yourself with before making any purchases.

Auction Terminology:

“After …” – This means that the artwork is considered to be a copy of an artwork by another artist.
“Attributed to …” – Indicates that in the opinion of the auction house the artwork is probably by the artist although there is not enough evidence to be sure.
“In the style of …” – refers to an artwork that is considered to be of the period of the artist and resembles the artists style although
“Circle of …” – refers to an artwork that is considered to be of the period of the artist, closely relates to the artist’s style and reflects the artists influences
“Studio of …” (also workshop of) – refers to an artwork that is considered to have been executed in the studio of the artist and may or may not have been executed under the direction of the artist
“… And studio” – refers to an artwork that is thought to have been exeuted by the artists with the assistance of a member of members of the artist studio
“Manner of …” – refers to an artwork that is considered to have been executed in the style of the artist, but is of a later date
“Signed…”, “Dated…”. “Inscribed…” – indicates that the signature, and/or date, and/or inscription is from the hand of the artist
“Bears signature”, “Bears date”, “Bears Inscription” – indicates that the signature, and/or date, and/or inscription has been added by a hand other than the artist’s

Bid Increments (varies):

Current Bid Bid Increment
< $10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1
$10 – $29 . . . . $2
$30 – $49 . . $3
$50 – $99 . . $5
$100 – $199 . . . . $10
$200 – $299 . . $20
$300 – $499 . . . . $25
$500 – $999 . . $50
$1,000 – $1,999 . . . . . . . . $100
$2,000 – $2,999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . $200
$3,000 – $4,999 . . $250
$5,000 – $9,999 . . . . $500
$10,000 – $19,999 . . . . . . . $1,000
$20,000 – $29,999 . . . . . . . . . . . $2,000
$30,000 – $49,999 . . $2,500
$50,000 – $99,999 . . . . $5,000
$100,000 – $199,999 . . . . . . . $10,000
$200,000 – $299,999 . . $20,000
$300,000 – $499,999 . . . . . . . . $25,000
$500,000 – $999,999 . . $50,000
$1,000,000 – $1,999,999 . . $100,000
$2,000,000 – $2,999,999 . . . . $200,000
$3,000,000 – $4,999,999 . . $250,000
$5,000,000 – $9,999,999 . . . . $500,000
> $10,000,000 . . . . . . . . $1,000,000

Buyers Premium:

Bonhams:
20% of the Hammer price up to and including $500,000.00
12% of any Hammer price above $500,000

Sothebys:
25% on art priced up to $20,000
20% of the hammer price from $20,001 to $500,000
12% of the hammer price from $500,001 plus

Christies:
25% on art priced up to $20,000
20% of the hammer price from $20,001 to $500,000
12% of the hammer price from $500,001 plus

Philips De Pury:
20% of the Hammer price up to and including $500,000.00
12% of any Hammer price above $500,000.00

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

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Nick,

    Great info about art auction. It is good to know some details on buying art. Thanks for this post.

    Thanks,
    Jude
    artist

    My Art Blog:
    http://paintingsbyjude.blogspot.com

  2. mr Forrest I am intersting in your blog which I see the first time recent. It is interesting me much that art is such a good product with much to get profits from. This is why I am with you asking this question: I am hve good contacts in certain institition here in St Petersburg that has lost of arts, many my friend says that they are not knowing they have! I can get pictures to send that you may be able to show to your friends also with this interst and we could do some good business. I like art, this seems good. Reply soon and best wish from me.

  3. Thanks for really helping me with getting a better grasp on this! Excellent insights. wttmuseum

  4. Hi wttmuseum, thanks for the comment

    Nicholas Forrest
    artmarketblog.com

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