Looking to sell?  Visit our easy Auction Estimate Service page.

Selling Basics

Sotheby’s knowledgable staff will be delighted to guide you through the entire auction process. Once we determine that your property is appropriate for sale at auction, our specialists will establish estimates, catalogue your property and market it to prospective buyers worldwide. Sotheby's consistently achieves prices that meet or exceed pre-sale estimates.

View our glossary of terms to familiarise yourself with the language of auctions.

Discover What Your Property Is Worth

Our experienced, market-savvy specialists have the authority to provide accurate valuations. Please visit our Auction Estimate Service page to send information and photographs of your property. You will be asked to register or log-in to your Sothebys.com account to begin your auction estimate request.

In some cases, we will contact you to arrange an appointment to gather further details. You may also make an appointment to bring your property to the Sotheby’s office nearest you. If your property is not appropriate for a Sotheby’s auction, we will recommend an alternative selling venue.

Shipping and Insurance

Our staff can help arrange to have your property delivered to the Sotheby's location where it will be offered at auction. For assistance, please contact the selling location or your nearest Sotheby’s office. As the consignor, you are responsible for packing, shipping and insurance charges.

Pricing and Payment

The seller’s contract sets the reserve price and the seller’s commission.

For sold lots, Sotheby’s will send payment within 35 days from the sale date, provided we are in receipt of the buyer’s payment. Your payment will be based on the hammer price less a commission and any agreed-upon expenses.

If bidding on your item fails to reach the reserve price, we will not sell the piece at auction. Some consignors choose to take back their work(s), while others decide to offer it in a later auction or through our private sales department. Together, we will determine the best course of action. Charges, such as shipping and handling that were agreed pre-sale, will be invoiced immediately after the auction. If a lot does not sell, the reserve price will be used to determine certain fees.

With hundreds of live and online auctions every year, Sotheby’s will recommend the best type of sale to achieve the highest price for your property. Our experts also will consider the advantages of selecting one auction location over another and the most suitable time to sell your property.

Selling Step-by-Step

Coming to a Decision

There are many factors to consider when making the decision to sell your property. Among the most important is the price it is likely to achieve in the market.  Sotheby’s is pleased to provide authoritative estimates for your convenience.

Request an Estimate

To request an estimate, please visit our Auction Estimate Platform to send us information and photographs of your property. In some cases, we will contact you to arrange an appointment. If you decide to offer your property at auction, we will draw up a seller’s contract for you, which includes the reserve price as well as details about Sotheby’s commissions. If your property is not appropriate for sale at Sotheby's, we will recommend the optimum selling location where your property is likely to achieve the highest price.

Ship Your Object to Auction

Our Art Transport department can help arrange to have your property delivered to our offices. As the consignor, you are responsible for packing, shipping and insurance charges.

Watch the Auction and Receive Payment

You are welcome to attend the auction where your property is offered for sale, or you can watch it online.  A Sale Statement detailing your sale results and net returns, based on the hammer price less a commission and any agreed-upon expenses, will be sent to you immediately after the sale.