Our Artsy Auction Specialists, experts on Artsy’s bidding platform and auction inventory, break down everything you need to know before, during, and after bidding in an auction on Artsy.
Auction types on Artsy
A live auction is a sale that takes place in an auction house’s saleroom. This is a traditional auction setting where the sale is facilitated by an auctioneer and Artsy bidders may be bidding against individuals in the room, on the phone, or on other online platforms. In a live auction, lots are auctioned off sequentially and each lot is open for bidding for a period of time (usually around one minute, but this timing can vary).
Online-only auctions are held exclusively on Artsy. The lots in the sale will open for bidding at the same time and will also close at the same time.
Benefit auctions can be a combination of bidding formats (online-only, live, or an auction where preliminary online bids are transferred to an offline event). These auctions are held by nonprofits to benefit the organization or cause. Benefit auctions never have a buyer’s premium.
What to know before you bid
Artsy Auctions Specialists suggest you complete due diligence and get in touch with our team as soon as a particular sale or lot piques your interest.
Auction bids are binding, so it is essential to understand the total cost of a potential auction purchase before placing your bid(s). You may see notices of additional fees on lot pages - please make sure you understand any applicable fees before placing your bid(s) as fees can differ by bidder and location.
On any lot page, simply click “Ask a Specialist” to direct message the team, or, email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
Important items to consider inquiring about before the sale begins:
A condition report can be requested for any lot in an auction if not already included on the artwork page. The report will provide information about the physical state of the work and any damage, unusual characteristics, or alterations related to the piece.
You may also request additional images, which can provide helpful visuals of what is noted in the written condition report, and may provide a better sense of what the piece would look like in your space.
Buyer’s premium (BP) is a standard auction fee charged to any winning bidder. BP is not included in your winning bid price, varies per auction partner, and is a percentage calculated on the winning bid value.
Note: Buyer’s Premium is not charged in benefit auctions.
Shipping costs are not included in your bid price. There are many options when it comes to shipping artwork and upon request, Artsy Auctions Specialists are happy to request an (approximate) quote to your desired location for you.
Tip from Artsy Specialists: As shipping quotes can take some time to produce, we highly encourage you to request these with as much time as possible before a live sale starts or an online-only sale closes.
Value- Added Tax
Value-Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax placed on lots won at auction in applicable countries.
Artist's Resale Right
The Artist’s Resale Right (“ARR”) gives the creators of original works of art the right to a royalty when their work is resold through an auction house.
Depending on the hammer price of the work, ARR ranges from 0.25–4% of the resale price and only applies to the sale of artworks in the European Economic Area.
Is there a cost for bidding on Artsy?
No! There is no fee for bidding through Artsy, and using our bidding platform is at no additional cost to you.
How to place your bid
In order to place bids in any auction on Artsy, you will need to be registered for that particular sale before you can participate. While standard registration only takes a few minutes, our team recommends completing registration as early on as possible, or as soon as an auction piques your interest, as this will enable you to more seamlessly place bids in that sale if/when you eventually decide to do so. Please note: Any registration within 24 hours of a live sale start time will be held pending review.
Registration is very simple:
- Log into your Artsy account
- Click on "Auctions" > choose your auction. Once you're on the auction page, click "Register to bid"
- Follow the instructions, enter your information
For certain auctions, Artsy will require users to verify their identities in order to provide a seamless and more secure purchasing experience. More information about identity verification can be found here.
Bidding in Live Auctions
There are multiple ways to place bids in a live auction on Artsy.
Live Bidding: Bidding live gives you the best chance of winning a lot! To watch what happens with your lot(s) of interest and bid in real-time as the auction unfolds, you can use Artsy’s Digital Saleroom and simply join in at any point to bid live in the auction. The live bidding console will become available on the sale page once the live auction begins.
Maximum Bids: If you are not able to bid live, you can place a maximum bid anytime before the lot opens in the live auction and your max bid will be prioritized ahead of other bidders who join to place bids after you. Bids will be executed in the room on your behalf for the lowest competitive price up to, but not beyond, your defined maximum bid amount. In other words, after you place your max bid, Artsy will do the work of bidding for you while you sit back and relax during the auction.
Tip from the Artsy Auctions Specialists: Submit the absolute highest value you wish to bid as your maximum bid. Leaving a high maximum bid on your lot of interest (eg: at, or above, the lot’s estimate), will give you the strongest chance of winning a lot that might have a high amount of bidding activity during the live sale. Please be assured your maximum bid is confidential, and will not be shared with the auction partner hosting the sale.
Maximum Bids & Live Bids: If you already placed a maximum bid prior to the live sale beginning, you can also join in through our live bidding console to watch the progress and continue bidding in real time should you wish to bid beyond your original maximum bid value.
Tips for if you’re planning to bid in a live auction:
- Use the “Add to calendar” button on sale pages as a reminder to tune in on time.
- Save and follow works you’re interested in by clicking “Watch lot” on the lot page.
- If you have saved, or bid, on a work, you will receive an email reminder approximately 8 lots before your lot of interest comes up "on the block" (excluding the first 10 lots of a live sale).
- Download the most up to date version of the Artsy app before the auction begins to follow the bidding progress while on-the-go.
- Tune into the sale 10 to 15 lots before your lot of interest so that you can be prepared to jump in and bid as soon as your lot opens.
Bidding in Online-Only Auctions
Incremental Bids: When you find a lot you are interested in, one option is to set your bid at the next available bidding increment. If someone outbids you, you can return to the auction on Artsy to place a higher bid to stay in the lead.
Maximum Bids: The recommended option is to place a maximum bid anytime before the sale ends, which means you place the absolute maximum bid price you would be willing to pay for the lot. As the sale progresses, if/when other collectors also bid on your lot of interest, our system will bid on your behalf for the lowest competitive price up to, but not exceeding, your defined maximum bid amount, and your maximum bid will be prioritized ahead of other bidders joining in. You can continue to raise your maximum bid amount any time before the sale closes.
Tip from the Artsy Auctions Specialists: Submit the absolute highest value you wish to bid as your maximum, with ample time left in the auction, rather than placing many individual, or “Incremental Bids". This tactic will let the system do the bidding work for you and gives you the best chance of winning a lot without a last minute frenzy to submit final incremental bids.
Tips for if you’re planning to bid in an online-only auction:
- Make sure your accurate cell phone number is in your Collector Profile so you can receive text notifications if you are outbid. (You may add/edit your phone number to your Collector Profile here.)
- Not at a desktop computer or laptop during the last hour of the auction? Download the Artsy app to continue bidding while on-the-go.
- Add the online-only auction close time to your calendar. Bidding is typically most active during the last 10 minutes of the sale so, if you are available, it’s ideal to be monitoring the auction at this time.
What to expect after an auction
Directly after an auction ends, you’ll receive an email from Artsy with the outcome of your bids. If you have won any lots, you will receive another email with instructions for next steps (eg: payment & shipping/collection) in the near future.
If you haven’t received a follow up within five days of the close of the auction, please email email@example.com so our team may assist.