Antiques: how does a public auction take place?

The art world has never been so global or more accessible. The best estimates put annual art sales at between 60 and 70 billion dollars per year, or about 20% of annual sales. Transactions take place in galleries, art fairs, through advisory services, and online. However, even very experienced art lovers find public auctions intimidating.

What is an auction

Auctions are public events. Anyone can see what is for sale and choose to participate. Most auctions will require an individual to obtain a bidder number or other identification prior to the bidding process. The price increases each time someone makes a new higher bid until finally no other bidder is willing to bid more than the most recent bid, and the highest bidder takes the item. The public auction is considered complete when the seller accepts the highest bid and the buyer pays for the goods and takes possession of them.

How does the auction work?

When the hammer goes down, the price of an item has been determined by the people who want it, in full view of the world. But when you’re auctioning, it’s essential to do a little research before you sign up to bid. Each auction house publishes a catalogue several weeks before a sale, so you can scroll through the images and take advantage of the enormous amount of information available not only on prices, but on the history of the work and other works available from the same artist, exhibitions and more.

How to estimate the price?

With so much information at your fingertips in real time, it can be difficult to decipher what is worth buying. So, as with any other investment, it is imperative to have the advice of someone with the artistic expertise to help you before making a decision. You can also consult an independent artistic advisor, who will be happy to talk to you through the catalogue, provide additional information or, better still, walk with you through the exhibition. You should also go and see the article in the room and see for yourself what it is all about. What you see on the screen or in the magazines can change your decision, don’t hesitate to believe it.

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