Tips for Buying Modern Art at An Online Auction

Online auctions are fun and rewarding opportunities, which is why 83% of people see them as exciting ways to find great deals, with high value and a good price. The total revenue from online auctions has continued to grow steadily beyond the more than $2 billion in 2018.

Online auctions are an adventure, but if you’re a novice auction buyer, it helps to have some direction on what to look for and what to consider when you’re bidding on art at online auctions. 

Here are the top 10 tips for buying modern art at an online auction.

1. Find a Reputable Online Auction

Make sure you read the reviews of the auction house you plan on bidding with.  Most reputable auction houses clearly state their terms and conditions, but the history and reputation of the auction company is important too. Reputable auction houses are well-established with many years of successfully selling fine art to collectors and art lovers worldwide.

2. Register for the Auction

Once you find the ideal work of art and Online auction you would like to participate in, you must register and be approved to bid by the auction house hosting the online auction.  Online art auction registration is free, fast and easy. Simply complete the online registration process and the auction company will verify your registration and approve you to bid.

3. Remember the date (and time)

Online art auctions have a beginning and end date and time, and some auctions run for several days. So, the first key to a successful bid is to track and remember the date and time of the online auction. You don’t want to lose out on a great work of modern art just because you got the date and time wrong.

4. The Starting Price and Estimated Price Range

An online auction is not like a “regular” store, where the price tag is what you pay at the cash register. The final price each item sells for is entirely up to the registered bidders that are participating in the auction.  There is a “Starting Price” which is the starting bid set by the auctioneer or seller when the art auction item is listed.Very often you will also see an “Estimated” price range regularly set by the auction house specialists. These provide you with a “Low Estimate” and “High Estimate” dollar figure this type of work normally sells for at auction.  The estimated figures are based on historical sales of the same or similar work, the condition, the medium, market trends and the provenance of the work.No price is set in stone when you take part in an online auction. Just because the online auction lists an estimate of what the work of art is worth (or even the opening bid) does not mean that you won’t be able to bid and win at bargain prices.
Depending on the interest level and public demand for an item at auction, registered bidders can often pay well below the market value.  Just take your time. Consider what you want and place your bid. Then, watch how the online art auction progresses. You may just be surprised by how it turns out.

5. Filter by Your Interests

With an online art auction, you can focus on the artists you like and the actual art form you prefer.  For example, many artists have created works in several mediums, including paintings that are Oil on Canvas, Oil on Board or even paper, Acrylic on Canvas, board or paper, watercolors, gouache or mixed media.  There is also a massive trend toward purchasing and collecting limited edition modern artwork, often signed and numbered by the artist. There are a number of mediums artists use to produce these collectable works, including: limited edition original fine art lithographs, serigraphs, engravings, silkscreens, aquatints, screen-prints and mixographs.

Many famous artists have also produced sculptures that fall into four basic categories; carved, molded, cast or assembled.  Sculptures may be available in an array of materials, from bronze castings to marble, stone or resins and a host of other mediums.

Focus on work you love, the periods, movements, color themes, and subjects that match up best with your interests and your interior decorating needs. You may find that there are lots of works of modern art that spark your interest, in which case you can easily focus on getting exactly what you want.

It could also be the opposite situation where you see very few works that spark your interest. That’s ok too. Remember, you have all the time in the world. You don’t have to act (or buy) until you find the work that’s right for you and your interests.

6. Keep an Eye on the Deadline – Don’t Miss Out

As the online auction nears the deadline (or the end date and time), the bid volume can increase dramatically. That means that it may be to your advantage to keep a close eye on the bids early on. Then actively bid on the modern art that you really want toward the end of the online auction.Depending on the interest level, you may have a better chance of winning the bid if you wait until closer to the deadline before actively bidding.

7. Buy What You Love

Love (Charlie Chaplin), 2012

Love (Charlie Chaplin), 2012

There are likely many reasons you might be considering the purchase of a work of modern art. You may have first been curious about the online art auction as a solution for your interior design needs, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be more than that.

Pick modern art that you’re drawn to, that speaks to you, and that you really love. That’s why it’s best to follow your heart. It’s the only way to make sure that your investment will really be something that you’ll keep around after the first spark of interest is long gone.

8. Winning the Auction and the Buyer’s Premium

The winning bidder at auction is required to pay the final bid price and the percentage of that price called the buyer’s premium.  The buyer’s premium is charged by the auctioneer to cover administrative expenses.For example, if you bid on an item, or auction “lot” and win the bid at $100, and the auctioneer’s buyer’s premium is 20%, you would pay $120 total to the auctioneer.  Make sure you understand the total cost of your acquisition prior to bidding. It’s recommended that you plan what you are willing to spend on each item and determine the maximum amount you are prepared to bid, so you can do the calculations of the additional fees prior to bidding.

9. Pay When you Win

When you win a bid at an online auction, you will have several days to process your payment and arrange the best mode of delivery. When you register for an auction you are acknowledging the terms and conditions of that auction and your winning bid is a contract.Be prepared to complete the transaction in a timely and professional manner. Remember, this is probably not the only online auction you’ll participate in. Learn from each experience.

10. Shipping

After you’ve paid for your item, the final step is to make arrangements for pickup or shipping.  If you are in the vicinity of the auction house, you can usually schedule a pickup date. Most reputable auction houses can also ship the item directly to you, or help you arrange packing and shipping with a third-party carrier.  Don’t forget to insure the item when shipping.

What’s the Next Step?

Start Searching!  An online auction is the chance to find the modern art that fulfills your needs and interests, but there’s also a lot that you should know before you make your first bid. These to 10 tips should help you get started and offer insight into what you expect.

We want to make the online art auction experience as easy and streamlined as possible. We’ll take all the guesswork out of the equation. We also want to make it easy for you to find the modern artwork that you’ll love. Find insights and resources at Dane Fine Art

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