Buying Fine Art Since 1975   •   T: 01590 678230   •   E: info@british-arts.com

Guide to Auction Charges

John Anthony Park JA Park sell art to Robert Perera

Auction pitfalls

Many of our clients are looking to avoid the high cost of selling items at auction and so find selling to our specialist gallery a more favourable option. Below is an outline of the potential pitfalls of selling at auction.

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An example of typical Auction Fees in London

What does the seller typically pay at auction?

You the seller usually has to pay:

  • 15% sellers comission
  • 20% VAT
  • 1.5% Insurance
  • Catalogue illustration £50-£500

Additional charges:

  • Marketing
  • Shipping and packing
  • Restoration
  • Storage
  • Import customs duties

They may also have a discretionary reserve which means that you give them permission to sell goods typically 10%-20% below the reserve price.

What does the buyer typically pay at auction?

The buyer of your item usually has to pay:

  • 20%-27.5% + 20% VAT Buyers premium
  • Up to 4.95%  + 20% VAT for online bidding
  • 4% Artist Resale Rights if applicable
  • Shipping
  • One is now charging £10 for a condition report.
  • Storage fees if items not collected on time. One auction house charges £30 after three days,  £100 after ten days and then £10 per day!

What does this mean to you?

Auction houses typically take around 50% out of the deal between you and the buyer! You also have to hope that the buyer pays their bill on time at auction, which they don’t always do!

Do auction houses charge if my picture is unsold?

Yes!  Most auction  houses charge an unsold charge and insurance before you can get your picture back. They often charge storage if you do not collect you item on time.

How long does it take to sell a picture?

It can take 3-8 months to sell a painting in a specialist auction because the larger auction houses often only have two sales a year with long lead  times.

Is there anything else?

Many of the leading auction houses sell licences to the photograph they uses for their catalogues, making more revenue from your painting, long after you sold it!
You have normally agreed to this in the small print. Look on the back of fine art greetings cards and see who has provided the image.

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Do all pictures sell at auction?

Not all pictures sell at auction. A sale can depend on many factors. These include : pricing, fashion, rarity, condition, quality, provenance. Other wider factors can include the economy, stock market, current bad news, sporting events and even the weather including heatwaves or snow!

Is my picture black listed?

When a painting is unsold it is usually listed on worldwide art sales databases as an unsold picture, which can be unhelpful to a future sale as it may put off  future potential buyers.

When should I use an auction?

There are times when auctions are useful particularly if you cannot find a direct buyer for your item. There are also some items which would benefit from an auction arena. These include particularly rare items, museum pieces or where a value cannot be established by other routes.

If this is the case Robert Perera Fine Art can guide you through the process with their experience and market analysis and recommend an auction house that fits your requirements.

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