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The New Cost of Selling at Auction
Editorial / Art Market

The New Cost of Selling at Auction

11 Apr 2024

Contentious decisions

In a very controversial move, Sotheby's have announced the implantation of a tiered selling commission structure. This translates into fixed fees that are no longer negotiable unless the consignment exceeds $50 million. Additionally, Sotheby’s has introduced what it has called a ‘success fee’, where the auction house will take an additional 2% commission on any hammer price that exceeds the high estimate.

Hang-Up's Selling Structure

We offer a selling structure that benefits both the gallery and the vendor.

Our commission means that the gallery is incentivised to sell your work for the highest amount possible and we do not charge an additional 'success fee' if the value surpasses the high estimate.

This means that the seller will directly benefit from the gallery working hard to achieve the best possible price.



The risk on relationships

The introduction of fixed vendor’s commission has removed the most powerful negotiating tool that specialists can use when trying to convince a vendor to consign with them. Indeed, previously the buyer’s premium has risen so that vendor’s commission can fall (or be negotiated down). It is widely understood that the hardest job an auction house specialist faces is obtaining good consignments for their auction.

Moreover, much of the art world is built on long-standing relationships. If a high-end VIP client who has worked with a specialist for decades is now told that they must abide by the same commission as everyone else, one can certainly expect some backlash.

Gallery Flexibility

We have the ability to operate more flexibly than an auction house.

We do not have a consignment deadline for works. An appointment can be made at our physical gallery in Hoxton, London for any viewings, collections or deliveries, without the limitation of specific viewing days or consignment delivery windows.



Buyer's fees

In 1975 Sotheby’s and Christie’s introduced buyer’s fees which, over the years have grown from 10% to 27% in some cases.

Sotheby’s has now announced that their buyer’s fees will be 20% up to $6 million and 10% on the portion of the hammer price exceeding $6 million.

Previously at Sotheby’s, buyer’s fees would be charged up to 27% (including the 1% admin fee).

To bring these buyer’s fees down, inevitably the seller’s fees have increased.

No Hidden Costs

Our fees and process are transparent and we are on hand to guide you through and answer any questions you might have.

It’s not just a percentage of the bidding price that goes to the auction house. You might also be liable for marketing, storage, shipping costs, packaging, an appearance in the catalogue – and perhaps even a fee if your work doesn’t sell.

Navigating the costs of selling at auction can be tricky and inexperienced sellers can get burned.

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