On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee.
Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. In most cases, Christie’s compensates the third party in exchange for accepting this risk with remuneration based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or, if the third party is not the successful bidder, either a fixed fee or an amount calculated against the lot’s hammer price. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Where the third party is the successful bidder, Christie’s will report the final purchase price net of the fixed financing fee for taking on the guarantee risk.
Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot. This is a lot where Christie’s holds a direct financial guarantee interest that is backed by a third party’s irrevocable bid.
Please note that this painting has been requested by The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for their forthcoming exhibition René Magritte: The Fifth Season to be held in May-October 2018.