Auctions are exciting live events where you can buy some of the
most desirable work on the market and witness record-breaking sales.
Anyone who wins the bidding process can acquire artwork at an auction,
making the process more democratic than buying through a
The basic steps to buying at auction are researching, registering,
bidding, paying and obtaining your item. Catalogues of upcoming
auctions are available a few weeks prior to a sale and you can call and
request a copy. As works at auction are bought "as is", it is important to visit the preview
showing in order to inspect the work and evaluate it up close. Specialists from the auction
house can assist you before or during an auction with information about
the artwork, such as condition and provenance.
To register, auction houses request bidders to submit official
identification and basic financial information in order to qualify to
bid. You may bid in-person or through an agent, written bid, absentee
bid or telephone bid.
A bid is considered a legal and binding commitment to purchase
the artwork. If you bid in person, you will need to register for a paddle. The
paddle is numbered to identify you to the auctioneer. To place a bid, simply
raise your paddle until the auctioneer acknowledges you. Auctioneers are
very good at noticing paddle movements in the crowd and waving a paddle
furiously to get their attention is not necessary. Since auctions are live events,
you have very limited time to make your decision to buy. A bid is placed against
another bid in increments decided by the auctioneer, until a final bid wins. Pay
close attention while bidding, as not to over-bid.
At auction, artworks are given a low and high estimate, based on
previous auction records of comparable works. Artworks are subject to
a reserve, which is a confidential minimum price below which a
consignor will not sell the work. Works that do not make the reserve
are considered "bought in". The purchase price to the buyer is the
hammer price plus a buyer's premium and any applicable sales tax.
After a successful bid, go to the accounting department of the auction house to
make payment arrangements. You may pay in person or by invoice via mail.
After payment has cleared, you may pick up the artwork from the auction house or
arrange for it to be shipped at your expense.