What To Expect When Consigning A Piece To Auction

One of the services I offer to my clients is assisting them with the process of consigning pieces to auction after they’ve been appraised.

When I perform an appraisal, comparable sales that I use for a fair market value come from auction houses. These auction houses are listed in the appraisal report, have realized sales for the artist, as well as have the clientele that is known to purchase similar pieces. This all means that auctions are a great option for many of my clients. Here’s what you need to know about consigning a piece to auction.

How it works:

  • I make initial contact on behalf of my clients. Auction houses are quite happy to deal with an appraiser, because they know they’ll receive all pertinent information about the piece that they need in order to add it to an auction.
  • Once an auction house shows interest, I introduce the client/consignor to the specialist at the auction house to work out any details.

What to expect:

  • You may have to wait several months for an auction that’s appropriate for your piece. For example, some artists and/or pieces fit better in auctions that only happen twice a year.
  • You will have to ship the pieces at your own cost. Sometimes, when a piece is extraordinary and auction houses are vying for the consignment, an auction house will take care of shipping costs themselves, but that is rare.
  • Once your piece sells, you’ll pay a seller’s commission to the auction house. I generally tell my clients to plan on this commission being around 20% of hammer price, but this can change based on the house and the piece itself. This commission also can be used as a bargaining chip with exceptional, highly sought-after works.

Many people may feel intimidated by the auction process, but it’s not actually too complicated. Putting your piece at auction is a great option if you choose to sell, and it can be an educational and thrilling experience having a piece on block.

While most of my work is with appraisal clients, I can also facilititate consignment for anyone who has a piece they’d like to sell. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in consigning a piece to auction.


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