What are the benefits of buying art at auction?
Sotheby’s: Buying at an auction is the best way of knowing that you’ve paid the correct price for the artwork, since the price is set by how much the public is willing to pay rather than being decided by a gallery or a dealer. There are also some wonderful works of art that only tend to be available via auction. On top of that, you have access to incredibly knowledgeable specialists who can give you advice on how and what to buy.
Bonhams: There are many benefits to buying at auction, one of which is the wide choice on offer. At Bonhams we have 30 different art departments all holding at least two sales a year – some departments hold four. These are defined either by subject matter (e.g. marine art), by period (e.g. Old Masters, post-war, contemporary) or by the nationality of the artists (e.g. African art, Greek art and, of course, Scottish art).
Another benefit is transparency. Our auction catalogues provide information about the works for sale, along with an educated estimate of the sort of sum each piece might be expected to sell for based on the current market and how similar pieces have sold in the past.
Buying at auction also provides reassurance: Bonhams has teams of specialists to research the background to the works for sale, provide reports on the condition of the paintings, alert potential buyers about what is coming up and to answer their questions. Our specialists are not just experts in their fields but often develop a close working relationship with their clients. All Bonhams sales can be previewed, so potential buyers can inspect the art in person and talk to a specialist about it.
How do auctions work?
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The Art Guide 2019