Online-Only Auctions | How to Bid

Step 1: Register

Select an Online-Only Auction
Learn about our upcoming online-only auctions by going to the ‘Online-Only’ link under the “Buy” tab on Sothebys.com. There you can browse the calendar of upcoming online-only auctions and click in to the view the e-catalogues of the current live sales:


Register for the Auction
Registration is available for an online-only auction only during the dates listed for the auction. From the e-catalogue, you will click ‘register’ and either be prompted to login or to create an account. Note that you will be required to enter your credit card and billing information and to read and accept our Conditions of Sale and Terms of Guarantee (Conditions of Business and Authenticity Guarantee for EU and HK based auctions). You can access these documents from the e-catalogue and every lot detail page throughout the duration of the auction.


If the online-only auction is not yet open for registration, you can click “Notify Me” to be emailed when the auction is open for registration.


Please be advised, currently the Sotheby's iOS and Android mobile applications do not support online bidding. In order to register and bid in an online auction, you must use either a mobile or desktop browser. 

Browse the e-catalogue
Once the online-only auction is live, you may view detailed lot descriptions, images and condition reports from the e-catalogue. Questions? Please contact our specialists via the “request info” link on each lot detail page. They will be delighted to discuss particular lots in more detail.  

For EU-based auctions only, shipping estimates can be accessed from the lot detail pages: 


You may also call the following phone numbers to ask questions of our specialists, obtain shipping quotes, or for technical assistance:

US: +1 212 606 7000
UK/EU: +44 (0) 20 7293 5000
Hong Kong: +852 2524 8121

Step 2: Bid

Place a Bid
Enter your maximum bid, or ‘Max Bid’, the highest amount you would like to bid on the lot (please enter your bid amount without punctuation, excluding any $ or commas). The bidding platform will then automatically place incremental bids  on your behalf as much as is required to ensure you remain the highest bidder (up to your ‘Max Bid’). The bidding platform will execute bids beginning at the lowest increment. You can find the Bidding Increment Table on all Lot Detail pages. If your ‘Max Bid’ is outbid, you will be notified via email for a chance to increase your bid. For clients who are familiar with our traditional auctions, a ‘Max Bid’ functions in the same fashion as an absentee bid. Though you can always return to the sale and increase your bid, we encourage you to take advantage of the ‘Max Bid’ feature, should you find yourself unable to return to your desired lot on the day the sale is set to close. If two clients enter the same ‘Max Bid’, the bid which was entered first will have priority. 


Bid Until Auction Closes 

Up until the close of the sale, you will be emailed if your status on a given lot changes. On the final day of the sale, lots will close in 1-minute increments unless a bid is placed within 1-minute of a lot's scheduled end time. If this occurs, the platform will extend the closing time of the lot by 5 minutes. This practice, set in place to prevent ‘snipe’ bidding and give all clients adequate opportunity to increase their bids, can continue for up to 2 hours following the lot’s initial close time.  

Ex: If Lot 2 is set to close at 12:02PM, it could potentially remain open with active bidding until 2:02PM. 

Please note, if the end time of a lot is extended, the other lots will continue as scheduled– one lot will not affect another. 

As many bids come in on the final day of the sale, we encourage you to remain available should you want to remain competitive on your desired lots. If you are unable to do so, we encourage you to consider leaving a ‘Max Bid’, as defined above. 


As the auction closes, please be reminded to 'refresh' the page. This can be done by either completely refreshing your browser window, or by clicking "Refresh This Page" located at the top of the e-catalogue, under the contact details. You must refresh the page manually in order to see/view new incoming bids on the online-only platform. If you are outbid you will receive an email notification suggested that you increase your bid.


Step 3: Pay & Ship

If you are the highest bidder at the close of the lot, shortly following the close of the sale you will receive a congratulatory email notifying you of your purchase and then separately an invoice for total charges, along with payment instructions and a shipping quote. Please refer to the auction's Conditions of Sale and Terms of Guarantee (Conditions of Business and Authenticity Guarantee for UK- and Hong Kong-based auctions) for more information.

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