Call Us: 01292

Buying Art at Auction

Home / Auction / Buying Art at Auction



Discovering Art

Art is a magical thing, it can be thought provoking, it can make you stop and look, it can make you remember or forget, art can trigger so many emotions within us all.

Some people buy art because ‘the colours match’ the curtains or soft furnishings, that’s fine, however, it shouldn’t be the only reason you buy an original piece of art. It’s that special visual connection that you make with a painting that makes it so special.

When you haven’t bought a piece of art before, making that first purchase can be a daunting prospect. The more art you see the more confident and selective you will become about the kind of art you are more attracted to. We are lucky in Scotland, we have a wealth of auction houses, galleries, exhibitions and art fairs which display an abundance of art work from established contemporaries and a new generation of up and coming artists.

It has never been easier to buy original art work thanks to the web and the abundance of art auctions. Auction houses present a unique opportunity to acquire pre-owned art. This means the work has already been sold further by the artist, gallery, or exhibition. A saleroom can provide interesting finds, works by established artists, new artists and those waiting to be rediscovered by the market.

Thomas R Callan’s weekly interior sales held every Thursday is full of affordable art. Original paintings can be acquired from as little as £20. Quality paintings by renowned and more established artists are consigned to Fine Art and Antique Catalogue sales where paintings range from £200-£20,000.

Auctions can be exhilarating way to buy artwork, at prices that are a fraction of retail prices. They also offer the opportunity to buy unusual, rare and even unique items which almost never come up in any other outlet. When buying preowned art consider re-framing.  Remember getting the frame right will greatly enhance your art work, it can also transform your home.



Edward Atkinson Hornel



Art Auctions

Get a catalogue for the sale and study it so you can identify items of interest. The sale will be online so if you have a decent computer screen it’s a good way to view them, although most images are of a low resolution.

Always try and attend a preview, there is nothing like seeing the art for yourself. You can see the condition, the frame and importantly see the actual size.

Try and research the artist and their work in order to understand the potential market value, the catalogue will give you an auctioneer’s estimate. Remember that after the hammer price there will be a buyer’s premium, VAT on the buyer’s premium and an extra 4% ARR, artist resale rights or droit de suite.


Auction estimate

Catalogued items are accomplished by two figures, a low and a high estimate. This is the price range within which the auctioneer expects the item to sell for.


In advance of the sale you will be required to register. This involves giving the auction house your name, address, phone number, email address and two forms of ID (photo ID & proof of address) You will then be given a paddle number for the sale.


You can bid in person, by commission (you can instruct the auction house to bid on your behalf to your maximum amount) by phone or you can bid live online (extra 3% change for this service as the software is provided by a third party)

Buyers premium, VAT and Droit De Suite (ARR)

Auction houses charge a buyer’s premium on top of the hammer price. VAT is charged on this premium. Another charge which can be added on is Droit De Suite. This is a 4% royalty payable to qualifying artists or the artists heirs each time an artist’s painting is resold during the artists lifetime and up to 70 years, following the artists death. It applies for items selling for £1,000 euros or more.


Attending the auction

Taking part is exciting and easy, once you have registered and have a bidding paddle you’re ready.

Once you’re in the room you raise your paddle when you wish to bid, and keep doing so until you either win with the highest bid or drop out when the price goes beyond what you’re prepared to pay.

You have to attract the auctioneer’s attention first. Once the auctioneer knows you’re bidding, he will look back to you each time the price rises. That’s the point at which you can signal with a nod of the head, a flick of the hand or a wink of the eye to indicate to the auctioneer that you wish you continue bidding.

Don’t worry if you wave to a friend – it doesn’t mean you have inadvertently spent a fortune!!! If the auctioneer is uncertain of a bid they will usually ask, “is that a bid?”

The auctioneer will trade the bidders against each other until one drops out. The auctioneer will look around the room for another interested bidder and take bids from the new comer against the remaining bidder until one drops out again, until there is only one bidder left, prepared to pay one more bid than anyone else. The hammer will fall and the item is sold.

Happy bidding and good luck!!!!


Recent Posts
Contact Us

Drop us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.