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There are four main ways to sell with Sotheby's.
We look forward to discussing the best possible route for you.
Why and How to Sell with Sotheby’s
- We will help you sell your valuable objects with the right strategyIf your item meets our quality standards and minimum consignment value, Sotheby's will provide preliminary estimates and will recommend the most effective way to sell your property -- whether in one of our live or online-only auctions, as a private sale , on Buy Now marketplace (US only) or, if appropriate, with one of our trusted partners.
- See All (5 questions)We work directly with consignors to build trusted relationships together.
In submitting your estimate request, you represent that you are the owner of the property that you are inquiring about, that you own the property free and clear of any claims, liens, encumbrances or interests of others and that the property can be offered freely in the international art market. If you are interested in consigning your property to Sotheby's, please be aware that you are responsible for complying with any local export or import laws.
Please also note that Sotheby's does not authenticate objects or artworks submitted, and does not accept liability in respect thereof. Sotheby's gives no representation, warranty or guarantee with respect to an item's origin, provenance, attribution, condition, date, age, value or authenticity.
What are the advantages of selling with Sotheby’s?
Sotheby’s is the world’s largest, most trusted and dynamic marketplace for art and luxury. With our global team of specialists and forward-thinking spirit of innovation, Sotheby’s consistently achieves prices that meet or exceed pre-sale estimates.
How do I sell with Sotheby’s?
Using our online form, share information about your item and upload clear images. If we have a market for your piece at Sotheby’s, our specialists will be in touch.
What is the difference between auction, private sale and the online marketplace (Buy Now)?
At auction, items are bid on and sold to the highest bidder in a public sale. Private sales are for the discreet brokerage of a high-value transaction between seller and buyer. And the Buy Now platform offers a channel for immediate sale of an item at a fixed price.
Pricing and Timing
- How are estimates determined?To establish market demand, a Sotheby’s specialist will evaluate your property and market demand according to such important aspects as:
• artist or maker
• country of origin
• date of execution
• subject matter or type
An agreed-upon reserve price for each item of property will be set at or below the low estimate, namely at a level which does not exceed the low estimate. This price is strictly confidential between you and Sotheby’s, and will ensure that your property does not sell below this chosen price.
- See All (6 Questions)Is my online estimate request free of charge?
All our estimates are complimentary. Please kindly note that Sotheby’s only provides estimates for items that have been identified by our specialists as potentially suitable for sale.
May I request an estimate if I’m not ready to sell my item?
Yes, requesting an estimate is only the first step in selling your item.
How long does it take to receive an estimate?
Sotheby’s will answer an initial enquiry within seven business days. On some occasions, if an item requires additional research, more time will be needed. In such special instances, you will be notified of the status of your submission.
What happens after I submit my item?
After submitting your item, you will receive a confirmation email containing a unique reference code. If your item is suitable for sale at Sotheby’s, our specialists will contact you with provisional estimates and propose the most appropriate sale channel for your property.
Is my estimate a final appraisal of value?
All estimates are subject to physical (or virtual for Buy Now) examination of the item, as well as changes in the art market. Estimates are not formal documents for insurance, taxes or estate valuations and cannot be used as such.
How far in advance of a sale must I submit my item?
If you wish to submit an item into a specific sale, we normally recommend submitting at least 6-8 weeks prior to the sale start date, see calendar here . Both our Buy Now and Private Sale channels work outside of the auction calendar, and Buy Now currently only accepts submissions from a select group of locations (US and Hong Kong). Our specialists will review your item to advise on the most suitable selling channel.
The Sale, Documentation and Taxes
- Do I need to send my item to Sotheby’s?Should our specialists decide your item is suitable for auction, you will need to ship your item to Sotheby’s. Sotheby’s can assist with the shipping of your property from your chosen address to the relevant sale location. Our services include packing, shipping and customs clearance. Please contact your local office or appointed Pre-Sale Administrator for further information. If your item is selected for Buy Now, please keep it in your possession until sold.
- See All (9 Questions)What are Sotheby’s consignment terms?
Each consignment is unique and will receive individual attention. Our consignment terms and fees include commission, damage and liability fees as well as marketing costs to appropriately promote your consigned item.
What is a Sale Agreement?
Once you have agreed on the estimates and reserves with the specialist, you will be asked to sign a Sale Agreement. This document defines the agreed sale terms and our conditions of business, and provides a list of your property together with the agreed-upon estimates, reserves and applicable tax information.
Our sale terms can include:
• Vendor’s Commission
• Liability for Loss and Damage – Sotheby’s will assume liability for any loss or damage that occurs to your property during our care
• Illustration – this encompasses our marketing and photography costs
• And any other additional terms including, but not limited to, shipping, restoration and authentication
How will I receive the sale results for my item?
Our team will send you a sale statement after the auction, confirming the Hammer Price achieved for your property and detailing your proceeds less our commission, any agreed-upon expenses and any applicable [taxes including] VAT. Please note that the prices listed on our website are inclusive of our Buyer’s Premium and Overhead Premium fees. Consignors with items for sale on the Buy Now platform will receive an email notification once sale happens.
When will I receive the proceeds for the sale of my item?
Proceeds will be remitted 45 days after the auction, provided that we have received payment from the purchaser and in respect of online only auctions held in the EU, UK and Switzerland, the period during which certain EU and UK buyers may exercise the consumer cancellation right that applies to some purchases has ended without the right being exercised. Payment will be withheld if we have not received the ID documents required to complete your account. Consignors with items for sale on the Buy Now platform will receive payment 30 days after the item has been delivered to the buyer.
What happens to my item if it is not sold?
For Auction: If bidding on your item fails to reach the reserve price at auction, it will remain unsold. We will be in touch with you with our recommendations for your unsold property, including listing it on our Buy Now channel.
For Buy Now: Consignors who are in possession of their items don’t need to take actions. For items in Sotheby’s possession, the return can vary by department and a specialist will contact the consignor with next steps.
Will Sotheby’s charge tax on the sale of my item?
Sotheby’s might be required to charge tax on goods and services. The nature and rate of the relevant tax is determined by the location of the auction. Please contact your appointed Pre-Sale Administrator for any further information.
Is my submission and contact information kept confidential?
Can I cancel an item I have already submitted via the website?
Yes, it is possible to withdraw your submission by accessing the seller portal.
Why does Sotheby’s require a copy of my ID?
Sotheby’s is obliged to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation, dependent on the relevant sale location and jurisdiction. When consigning to a Sotheby’s sale for the first time, you will be asked to provide ID in accordance with the sale’s local AML regulations. If you have any questions regarding Anti-Money Laundering or ID requirements, please speak to your appointed Pre-Sale Administrator.
Special Cases and Rejections
- What if I require a formal valuation or if I represent a family estate?
- See All (6 Questions)I have an extensive collection that I wish to sell. What do I do?
We suggest that you submit a small sample of the collection and indicate that you have a larger collection that you would like us review. Our specialists will be in touch regarding next steps.
May I book an appointment or speak directly to a specialist?
Due to the high volume of requests Sotheby’s receives, we strongly recommend submitting your request online. Online submissions are regularly monitored by our team of experts to guarantee a timely response.
Should my item be cleaned or restored before submitting information to Sotheby’s?
There is no need to make any changes to your item at this time. A Sotheby’s specialist will review the current condition of the item you submit and produce a condition report prior to the sale.
I submitted my request. Why didn’t I receive an estimate?
If an object is valued below Sotheby’s threshold for sale, or if an item is outside of our realm of expertise, we might suggest a reputable local auction room or trusted partner. Often, these firms are able to offer a thoughtful valuation according to their specialized markets. Please note that certain brands and price thresholds are not accepted by Sotheby’s. We will inform you if your property falls within these categories.
I am an artist. May I consign my own work?
Sotheby’s cannot accept requests from artists at this time. Please submit your portfolio to galleries that specialize in representing artists.
Are there objects Sotheby’s doesn’t accept for sale?
We only accept property/items that meet each department’s unique thresholds for entry. You can find a list of our departments on sothebys.com.