As auction houses and galleries close their doors without any knowledge of when they can reopen, it’s business as usual at MyArtBroker as we see the strongest demand for works by Banksy, KAWS, Haring, Warhol and Hirst in years.
High street galleries are panicking. As their social media feeds scream: ‘we’re innovating!’ the shock waves of this extremely turbulent and distressing time is painting a pained smile upon anxious faces. Let’s be honest, the lockdown is going to hit the bricks and mortar art industry hard, it’s hit our daily lives extremely hard. As some of the few whose businesses that – gratefully – haven’t had to adapt too much in the last month, we take you through your options to selling art during a pandemic.
You want to sell something quickly, but who do you turn to?
The auction world is a variable beast, but its shift to digital has been a slow, and somewhat painful process; and boy, how they never would have predicted how much they might have to rely upon it as they are now. Nevertheless they have tried over the last 5 to 10 years, confidence in the online marketplace has built among sellers, and a stronger demand than ever for better access to the works that buyers want has forced the larger auction houses to try their best to keep up with the digital innovators operating alongside them in the space, and they have in some cases managed to appear on track, keeping the archaic and cumbersome process of auction behind closed doors. The reality is that while the bidding itself exists online the mechanics behind it are far from streamlined – and it is exactly that laborious process that is reflected in the cost to sell: often a staggering 15-20% of the price realised.
With heavy consignment fees, auction houses have been scrambling to strengthen their online capabilities to prove to the market that they’re worth the incredible loss to sellers. Note that Sotheby’s Online Only sale in March this year made £1.1 million, Sotheby’s not only brought in 25% plus VAT off the buyers, but up to £165,000 plus marketing, shipping and loss, damage and liability fees off the sellers. Somewhat surprisingly, there were still a few that believe the commission rate on consigning a multiple of any kind (a print, wine or a watch) to an online auction where the fees are this high is still worth it. We charge 0% to sell with us.
Let’s be clear – with an original, in the case of Di Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, or perhaps with a rare original Picasso, Bacon or Munch there is every chance that placing the work in the hands of the right auction house will seriously pay off, or it might not and then your work will be ‘burned’, meaning you’ll find it hard to sell anywhere (but back to the pros for a moment). Auction houses are likely to lower the seller’s commission rate to win the business of exquisite masterpieces. And there is nothing like the tension in the saleroom at a masterpiece auction when the bidding gets going – various bidding channels only make the process that much more electrifying. The reason these pieces work so well at auction is because such masterpieces come around once, in many cases only once in a lifetime. However, prints and editions occupy a very different space in the market.
In many cases collectors of contemporary prints and editions – both buyers and sellers – are looking to invest and return profits on work in a relatively short period, and they’re looking for one of a multiple. The very nature of bidding in an auction means as the buyer you have bid above and beyond the true value of the work, and as that seller you have lost 15-20% of that true value.
What to know if you’re considering selling via an online auction:
– Normally you would choose an auction house and approach them, first off is the task of finding the right auction for your work of art, this will be in consultation with one the house’s specialists, who will normally want to see the work in person (right now, not possible), but normally that is when they will advise on pricing strategy, and then suggest which sale would be best for it.
–What does it cost to sell at auction? The seller’s commission at auction houses such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s is up to 15%, on top of that you’ll be asked to pay loss, damage and liability insurance, as well as a marketing and cataloguing fee.
– The slated auction will likely be a few months down the line even if the auction is purely online and can go ahead consignment deadlines are usually 2 to 3 months prior to the next auction day. Check with the auction house: while in some cases their calendars still cite sales in June and July, many have moved all the their contemporary auctions to later in the year, or in 2020 in some cases.
– Once everything is decided between you and the specialist, an administrator will contact you with your paperwork. It will be then be up to you to manage and pay for the work to be shipped to the auction house’s storage facility ahead of the auction.
– If the work sells at auction you will receive payment a few weeks after the sale completes, if it doesn’t sell you’ll be expected to manage and pay for the safe return of your work, and pay the unsold fees to the auction house – often 1.5% of the average of the high and low estimate they put on it.
– You will then have anything from two weeks to a month to collect the unsold work from their storage facility before it starts accruing storage fees.
Let’s look how it works at MyArtBroker:
You make contact, we assign you a dedicated broker, you agree a price, we offer your work immediately, and start looking for a buyer.
The work does not need to leave your home or storage facility. There is no cost to sell, whatever
Once a buyer is found and the funds are cleared we can help ship the work direct, no storage facility needed.
That’s it, we promise.
What does it cost to sell?
We now offer 0% seller’s fee – guaranteed, with no hidden fees.
Business as Usual
There is nothing like a global pandemic to bring things to light, we have seen a major uplift in enquiries from those seeking new solutions to selling. The facts are quite simple: if you are looking to sell your Banksy exactly when you want, without cost, and without ever having to move the work until it’s sold (and these are simply the demands of the current climate more than ever, but the norm for us) then an auction house simply can’t help you. At MyArtBroker our seller’s fees are always 0%, with free shipping up to £250,000 and free and confidential valuations. That means it is 100% free to sell, private and fast. We often place prints with their new owners within a week.