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Inside the auction process
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Inside the auction process

In addition to the art auction business, Sotheby's and its growing number of specialized ventures offer our distinguished clients around the world a growing number of dedicated luxury services in related fields.

Before, during & after the auction

鈥婥atalogues include thorough descriptions, provenance, exhibition history, literary reference notes, and estimated selling prices for each lot. In addition, every catalogue tells you whom to contact for advice and information on the particular auction, viewing dates and times, and instructions on bidding if you cannot attend the auction in person. Respective terms and conditions for each auction are also printed in the backs of catalogues, along with Absentee Bid forms.

Sotheby's puts the lots from each of its sales on public display for approximately one week before the actual auction of those lots. Sotheby's exhibitions are open to the public and are an excellent opportunity to learn and examine fine art and antiques first-hand. Sotheby's specialists are on hand at these exhibitions to answer any questions you may have about the lots.

Sotheby's worldwide reputation for covering the vast range of antiques and decorative arts is unparalleled. Sotheby's collecting categories range from cutting-edge Contemporary Art and Old Master paintings to cinema posters, carpets, musical instruments, ceramics, glass, silver, furniture, Oriental art and textiles, to name but a few. Before you can consign property to Sotheby's, Sotheby's must make a preliminary auction estimate (see below.) If your property is of a type that Sotheby's handles, Sotheby's will indicate to you where the property should be delivered for auction. Please note that items should never be sent to Sotheby's without these preliminary communications. Consignors pay a selling commission that is deducted, along with any agreed upon expenses, from the hammer price. Sotheby's charges a commission based on the total hammer prices of all property sold by you at Sotheby's auctions

An auction estimate is a range of prices (e.g. $1,500-2,000) that Sotheby's specialists believe a piece might bring at auction. Appraisals and valuations are formal documents to be used for estate tax and planning, insurance, charitable contribution and collateral loan purposes.

All of Sotheby's auctions are free and open to the public. There is no obligation to bid. Sotheby's auctions are an excellent opportunity to observe and familiarize yourself with the bidding process before you begin to buy. Most auctions are held during the day, although some Impressionist, Contemporary, and special sales are held in the evening and may require tickets. If so, this will be noted in the catalogue.

There are two means by which an individual can place a bid for a live auction: by attending the sale, or by submitting an absentee bid form. Absentee bidding is available by printing a form and faxing it to Sotheby's, by mailing the form from the back of any Sotheby's catalogue, or by online absentee bidding through My Sothebys.
In certain cases, Sotheby's will accept bids from a potential buyer by telephone. An auctioneer's assistant in the sales room will relay the bidding information. At major sales, Sotheby's has had more than 20 telephone lines available. Telephone bidding is generally an option for lots of substantial value only.
Sotheby's charges a fee known as a Buyer's Premium. This is added to the winning bid (also known as the "hammer price") and is payable as part of the total purchase price. In many cases a single winning bid may have two different rates applied to different portions of the price. Before bidding in any Sotheby's auction, contact the appropriate Sotheby's office or specialist department to confirm the applicable rate.
There are a number of ways to obtain auction results: Auction results are available on the Auction Results page. Results generally become available immediately after the close of an auction. Results may also be heard by calling 212-606-7901.

Sotheby's accepts check or wire transfer, Visa, MasterCard and American Express, and cash (subject to certain restrictions). NOTE: Credit cards are not accepted in all locations, and not all cards are accepted in every location. Contact the Sotheby's location conducting the auction in which you are interested to determine payment methods.

Sotheby's US locations will collect the appropriate sales tax for lots picked up or shipped to any of the following states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington state and Washington, DC. For tax information in other locations, please contact your local Sotheby's office.

Following the UK's implementation of the EU Artist's Resale Right Directive, living artists are entitled to receive a resale royalty each time their art work is sold in the UK by an art market professional, subject to certain conditions. Sotheby's will collect the resale royalty due to the artists from buyers of lots with a hammer price (excluding buyer's premium and excluding VAT) in excess of €1000. Any purchaser of a lot to which Artist's Resale Right applies will be charged an amount equal to the applicable resale royalty, which will be added to the relevant invoice.

You may pick up your property at the selling location or have it shipped. If you wish, Sotheby's can arrange for the shipment of your purchase. Alternately, you may arrange to have your own shipper pick up your purchase. For further purchase, tax, shipping and other related information, please visit the Buying at Sotheby's page.

Sotheby's Diamonds

Sotheby's Diamonds is a unique partnership between the world's oldest auction house and the Steinmetz Diamond Group. Sotheby's Diamonds combines Steinmetz's expertise in diamond cutting and polishing along with Sotheby's connoisseurship and international client base. The first jewellery collection launched in New York and Hong Kong in December 2005.
James de Givenchy was named creative director for Sotheby's Diamonds June 2008, he was given free rein to forge innovative designs using a cache of exceptional stones. He draws inspiration from a magnificent diamond's inherent beauty and extraordinary colour, creating dramatic and innovative settings and furthering the relationship between diamonds and art.

Sotheby's Wine

Sotheby’s launched in fall 2010 a retail and online wine business, becoming the only major global auctioneer also offering fine wines at retail and online.

The team at Sotheby’s Wine is known for an unsurpassed level of knowledge and expertise and has put together some of the most well known and historic wine auctions around the world. That level of care and expertise that has previously only been available for those wishing to bid at auction can now be used by anyone throwing a party, selecting a gift, putting together a collection or just planning dinner.

This full service store, which has been designed by Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt of St. Louis-based Kuhlmann Leavitt Inc, offers a range of wine at competitive prices from $13.95 to $40,000 per bottle. Sotheby’s Wine is now fully open at 1334 York Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side or at Sothebyswine.com

Sotheby's Caf茅

Entering its tenth year, Sotheby's Café in London remains a sensational success attracting an eclectic mix of fine art collectors and dealers, visitors and Bond Street fashionistas.

Situated inside Sotheby's auction house at 34-35 New Bond Street in London's West End, Sotheby's Café is the perfect space for both initimate lunches and smaller events. The Café wine list is eclectic and fun. Selected by Serena Sutcliffe M.W., head of Sotheby's International Wine department, it is a regularly changing variety of delicious whites, reds and bubbly from all over the world. Sotheby's Café's kitchen is headed up by chef Laura Greenfield who creates a new and exciting lunch menu every week.

RM Sotheby鈥檚

RM Sotheby鈥檚 is the world鈥檚 largest collector car auction house in total sales. Over the past 40 years, RM has cemented its position as the market leader and successfully transformed the global automotive auction scene, helping elevate the perception of classic cars through auctions and private sales, coupled with an expert team of car specialists and an international footprint.

Sotheby鈥檚 Emporium

The Emporium is a new retail destination dedicated to showcasing the finest assortment of art, design and luxury items, all available for immediate purchase. Located within Sotheby鈥檚 New York flagship galleries, The Emporium is an extension of the company鈥檚 online marketplace, which offers over 5,000 authenticated luxury pieces across exquisite jewels, fine art, collectible sneakers, watches, designer handbags, decorative objects, furniture and more.

Sotheby鈥檚 buy now platform

Buy-Now Marketplace features Watches, Jewelry, Handbags, Sneakers and more, available for immediate purchase on the online platform operated by Sotheby鈥檚.

Sotheby鈥檚 Financial Services

Sotheby’s Financial Services is the only full-service art financing company in the world. Established more than three decades ago and with more than $9 billion of loans originated to date, it offers straightforward, swift financing that focuses on your needs and your collection. Sotheby’s network of in-house specialists provides knowledgeable valuations of your works while a dedicated lending team develops financing terms suited to your requirements.