The Complete Guide to Bidding in Artsy Auctions

Artsy Specialist
Jan 30, 2020 7:51PM

Our specialists break down all of the things you need to know before, during, and after bidding in an auction on Artsy. First, take note that there are three types of auctions on Artsy.

Live auctions

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).

Online-only auctions

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 one time.

Benefit Auctions

Benefit auctions can be a combination of bidding styles (online-only, live or an auction where preliminary online bids are transferred to an offline event). These auctions are held by nonprofits and proceeds benefit the organization. Benefit auctions do note have a buyer’s premium.

What to know before you bid

Since auctions move quickly, Artsy Specialists suggest you get in touch as soon as you become interested in a lot. Underneath the “Bid” button, simply click “Ask a Specialist” to send a direct message to the team, and you will hear back within one business day. Alternatively, you can email your questions to [email protected] at any time. Some things you might want to consider inquiring about before the sale begins:

Condition reports

A condition report can be requested for any lot sold at auction. These reports are available by request and can give you more information about the physical state of the work or any condition notes.

Shipping quotes

Should you successfully win your lot of interest, the shipping cost is not included in your bid price. There are many options when it comes to shipping artwork and Artsy is happy to request a quote to your desired location for you when requested before the sale.

You’ll also want to be aware of these potentially applicable fees.

Buyer’s premium

A buyer’s premium (BP) is a standard fee charged to any winning bidder at auction (not including benefit auctions). BP is not included in your winning bid price and can range from 10 percent to 25 percent of the winning bid. There is no additional fee for bidding through Artsy.

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.

Auction bids are binding, so make sure you understand the overall cost of a lot before placing your bid. You may see other notices of fees on lot pages, please email [email protected] with any questions about fees as they can differ by person.

How to place your bid

There are multiple ways to place bids on Artsy.

When you find a lot you want, one option is to set your bid at the next available bidding increment, which is known as a Minimum Bid. If someone outbids you, you can return to the auction on Artsy to place a higher bid to stay in the lead.

However, the recommended option is to place a maximum bid, which you can set to the maximum price you would pay for the lot. Artsy will bid on your behalf, up to (but not exceeding) this amount to maintain your position as the highest bidder as the sale progresses. This way, you can sit back and relax during the auction and still buy the work at the lowest possible price. If you place a maximum bid, you can still raise that maximum bid or join live bidding, if applicable, to continue bidding beyond your max if desired.

Your maximum bid is entirely confidential, and will never be shared with the auction house or nonprofit hosting the sale.

Bidding in live auctions

Bidding live gives you the best chance to win the lot. If you are not able to bid live you can submit a maximum bid anytime before the lot opens, and Artsy will do the work of bidding for you.

If you plan to bid live, we recommend:

  • Adding the live auction to your calendar ahead of time.
  • Saving works you’re interested in by clicking “Watch lot” for the artwork you’d like to bid on. For lots that are over 8 lots (approximately 10 minutes) into the sale start, notifications will be sent to you a few minutes before you lot via email if you’ve already bid on a work or saved it.
  • Make sure you have the Artsy app downloaded before the sale begins. As live auctions move quickly, Artsy does not send you emails during the sale if you are outbid, so make sure to download the Artsy app to follow along on-the-go.
  • Watch the sale 10 to 15 lots before your lot of interest so that you can jump in and bid live as soon as your lot opens.

Bidding in online-only auctions

In online-only auctions, you can place a maximum bid anytime while the auction is live.

For the best chance at winning an online-only auction, we recommend:

  • Making sure you’ve added your phone number to your Collector Profile to receive text notifications if you are outbid. You can add your phone number to your Collector Profile here. We’ll also notify you by email.
  • Add the online-only auction close time to your calendar. Bidding is the most active during the last 10 minutes of the sale so, if you are available, it’s a good idea to monitor the auction at this time.

What to expect after an auction

After live or online-only sales close, you’ll receive a notice of the bidding outcome from Artsy. If you have won the lot, the auction house will reach out to you directly to manage all other elements of the post-sale process including invoicing, payment, and shipping or pickup.

If you haven’t received a follow up from the auction house within seven days of the close of the auction, please email [email protected].

Artsy Specialist