Christie's | Fine Art Auction House


Bidding, buyer's premium & terms

How can I bid? Christie's offers the following 5 bidding options in our traditional auctions:

In person: Registration for In Person bidding can be completed online approximately two (2) business days before the auction.  Or, you can come to the saleroom on the day of the sale to register. Please bring identification and arrive 20-30 minutes before the auction to complete bidder registration and to receive your paddle.

Christie’s Live™: This feature lets you watch, hear and bid in a Christie's auction in the saleroom from your computer. Special software is required, which you may download from the Christie's Website at no charge. Registration for online live bidding must be completed approximately two (2) business days before the auction. Read More>

Written Bid:  If you cannot attend the auction, you may choose to leave a written bid, also called a commission bid or order bid. A Christie's staff member will try to secure the piece for you at the lowest price possible. Simply print out the absentee bid form (in the back of your catalogue), specify your maximum bid amount, fill in all other requirements and fax the form to the Bid Department of the saleroom location to reach our hands no later than 24 hours before the auction.

Absentee Bid Online: We offer a secure way to submit absentee bids online through LotFinder® up to approximately 24 hours before the sate date. Here are the easy steps:
1. Enter the sale# and lot# in the Quick Search section
2. On the lot detail page, click on Add to Absentee Bid Form
3. If you're not registered/logged in, follow the directions until you're back at the lot detail page
4. Now click View Bid Form
5. Enter your maximum bid amount
6. Follow the directions until you receive a confirmation

Telephone Bid: Telephone lines are limited, so telephone bidding may be reserved for more expensive lots. Contact the Bid Department for details.
In addition, Christie's conducts online-only auctions with all bidding taking place online. Online-only bids can be submitted throughout the duration of the bidding period. Property available via Private Sale is brokered by contacting the Specialist Department directly.

What information do you need from me to bid? You will be asked to provide your name, address, telephone number and banking or credit information as required.  If you are new to Christie's, we suggest you contact the Bid Department to pre-register for the sale or speak with the Credit Department at the appropriate saleroom to provide your banking information in advance of the auction.

What is an emergency or covering bid? This is a pre-arranged bid amount that a Christie's staff member may execute on behalf of a telephone bidder in the event that the telephone bidder cannot be reached in time.

Do I need a client number before I bid? If this is the very first time you are doing business with Christie’s, our staff will assign you a permanent client number to facilitate future transactions.

What is the latest time that I can arrange to bid? Generally, our salerooms have a deadline of 24 hours before the auction to arrange telephone or absentee bids for our traditional auctions. For our online-only sales, bids may be submitted at ant time until the lot closes.

When will the auctioneer offer my lot for sale? It is impossible to know the exact time when a lot will be offered during the auction.  The usual speed of our auctioneers is 60-100 lots per hour, but rates may vary.  Wine may be sold at up to 200 lots per hour.

What are the terms for buying at Christie's? The successful bidder is required to pay a buyer's premium, a percentage on top of the final bid price or hammer price. It is also important for bidders to read the Conditions of Sale and Limited Warranty in the back of the catalogue relevant to the sale. Online, you’ll find this information under Important Information. 
Shipping charges:
These are not included in the purchase price. For traditional auctions, we suggest you request a shipping estimate from your own carrier or Christie's Shipping Department before the sale. For online-only auctions, a shipping fee will be automatically added to your purchase price at the time of payment.
Payment: Payment is in the currency of the saleroom location where the auction took place. Sales, use or value added taxes (VAT) may be due on your purchases.
Export: Before placing a bid, we advise you to find out about any import/export restrictions that may affect your purchase decision.

What are Christie's standard bidding increments? While our auctioneers may vary the increments at their discretion, they usually increase bidding in the following increments regardless of currency:

0-1000 (by 50); 1,000-2,000 (by 100); 2,000-3,000 (by 200); 3,000-5,000 (by 200/500/800); 5,000-10,000 (by 500)
10,000-20,000 (by 1,000); 20,000-30,000 (by 2,000); 30,000- 50,000 (by 2,000/5,000/8,000)
This pattern may repeat continuously.
For New York Interiors Sales:
0-2,000 (by 100) and all other increments remain as stated above.

What is the best way to learn about a lot that interests me? Property in our auctions is sold "as is," and examining property in person is the best way to learn about it. Pre-auction viewings, which are free and open to the public, usually begin several days prior to the auction and provide an opportunity to personally inspect the property. Our specialists will also be on hand to answer any questions.

What if I cannot personally inspect a lot? You may choose to contact a Christie's specialist for information and to request a condition report,  which is a written description of condition of the property prepared as a service to prospective bidders upon request and in accordance with the Conditions of Sale/Business and Limited Warranty. You can find this information at the back of every catalogue and on our Website in LotFinder® bidding under Important Information.

How can I request a condition report? Please telephone the saleroom or email your request to Include your name, the sale and lot numbers, and your fax number. Since property may be stored offsite, condition reports may not be available until a few days before the sale.

How can I arrange an absentee bid? An absentee bid, also called written bid, commission bid or order bid, is your written instruction to Christie's to bid for you on one or more lots up to the maximum amount you have specified for each lot.  To arrange an absentee bid, please fill out a form during a visit to Christie's. You may also fax or mail your completed bid form to us (which you’ll find in the back of the catalogue), or telephone the Bid Department at the saleroom location of the sale. Because absentee bids are time-stamped, we recommend you submit your bid as early as possible. If two or more parties leave identical bids the first bid received will take precedence. Christie's cannot accept bids by email. You may also submit your absentee bid online using LotFinder®, the catalogue search engine on

How much should I bid? Please keep in mind that most property is sold subject to a reserve. Your bid should be the largest amount you are willing to bid in the saleroom. Our staff will attempt to execute your bid at the lowest possible amount as determined by the reserve and competing bids for that lot. Also bear in mind that, on top of the successful bid amount, the buyer will also pay a Buyer's Premium and any applicable sales, use or value added taxes (VAT) that may be due. Any shipping costs will also be the buyer's responsibility. If your bid is not a standard bidding increment, our Bid Department may contact you to change or adjust your bid to the next lower standard increment.

Can I change or cancel a bid? Yes, you can telephone or fax the Bid Department at the Christie's saleroom location of your sale. Online absentee bids can be changed or cancelled online up to approximately 24 hours before the sale date from your My Christie's online account. If you log in and find a message saying Bidding Unavailable or Online Bidding Closed, please contact the Bid Department for that auction to make any changes. In an online-only sale, you cannot change or cancel a bid once it has been submitted.

How are bids executed for lots offered without reserve? Absentee bids submitted for "no reserve" lots will, in the absence of a higher bid, be executed at approximately 50% of the low pre-sale estimate or at the amount of the bid, if it is less than 50% of the low pre-sale estimate.

How do I submit an absentee bid online using LotFinder®? To begin, click Bid on the LotFinder® lot detail page of the item you want.  If you have not yet registered or logged in to Your Account, follow the instructions until you are back at the lot detail page.  You can either bid now or return to searching in LotFinder® to add more lots to the absentee bid form and submit later.  When you are ready to place your bid, click View Bid Form on any lot detail page.  Then enter your bid amount and follow the easy steps until you receive a confirmation that you can print out. You will also receive a confirmation email for each bid form that you submitted online, whether for a single bid or a group of bids. We recommend that you enter the highest amount you are willing to pay in Your Maximum Bid field.

How will Christie's notify me after the auction? Immediately after the auction, Christie's sends invoices by postal mail to all successful bidders.  Absentee bidders receive letters reporting the status of their bids. Winning bidders in online-only sales are notified by email.