Global auction house Christie’s announced today that it would increase the threshold of its buyer’s premium at auction effective March 11. The buyer’s premium is the fee paid by the purchaser to the auction house above the hammer price. The Financial Times’s Georgina Adam broke the news Monday on her Twitter feed. She also reported that Christie’s is increasing its fees in order to keep “current with rising costs while minimising impact on both buyers and sellers.”
The fees themselves will not increase (except for at wine auctions) — there remain three levels of fees, 12 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent, depending on how high the bidding goes — but the threshold for moving down the ladder in the fee structure will increase. Christie’s website notes:
The new premium rate shall be an amount equal to 25% of the hammer price of each lot up to and including £37,500/$75,000; plus 20% of the hammer price from £37,501/$75,001 up to and including £750,000/$1,500,000 and 12% above £750,001/$1,500,001. This change effectively widens the thresholds where the percentage fees apply but does not change the percentage rates.
Previously it was 25 percent up to $50,000, 20 percent of the amount over $50,000, up to and including $1 million, and 12 percent of any amount above $1 million. Buyer’s premium on wine lots has increased to 22 percent in New York and Hong Kong, and 17 percent in London and Europe.
In the past, the auction houses have increased their fees nearly simultaneously, so the question now is how Sotheby’s, Phillips, and Bonhams (which increased its buyer’s premium to be in line with the bigger auction houses in 2011) will respond.
— Shane Ferro
(Image: Christie’s May 2012 contemporary auction in New York)