"How to auction" with Christies - Part II

Auction day for the Christie’s Interiors sale has finally arrived and my first port of call is to claim my paddle – lucky number 524, and let the Customer service team know which lots I’m interested in bidding for.  You can ask them for a rough idea of what time your chosen lots will be coming up, so that you can leave and come back. 

I find a seat well in advance of my upcoming lots so I’ve got time to soak up the pace and enjoy the spectacle.  Auctioneers are quite theatrical to watch and they have an acute awareness of the mood in the room.  A Louis Vuitton trunk saw the telephone bids team transformed into a scene from the trading floor in The Wolf of Wall Street.  Equally, seemingly quiet moments are often furiously busy with online bidders.


Don’t forget the Buyer’s premium of 25% which will be added to the hammer price should your bid be successful.  It pays to set yourself an upper price limit with the Buyer’s premium factored in, so you don’t go overboard.  Things can move fast in the sale room and my four-poster bed went for well over the guide price.  But it can go either way on the day, such is the beauty of an auction.  

But how do you actually bid?  You can raise your paddle as they do in films, wave an arm or make eye contact with the Auctioneer and nod.  Don’t worry, the auctioneer will see you, they are experts in scanning the room, their book, the online bidding screen and the telephone team. 

Hurrah, you won!  You can either settle your invoice, which you receive by post or better still supply your bank or payment details when you register.  Christies can help arrange delivery if required. 

So what happened to the pieces I was bidding for?  The cosy George III Mahogany four-poster bed set off a bidding frenzy and outperformed all expectations fetching £7500 whilst the Prince of Wales Investiture chairs sold for £2500 (prices including buyer’s premium).   Perhaps had the chairs sold in a patriotic year around the Royal wedding or Queen’s Jubilee, they may well have fetched more.   Hopefully they will remain a set of eight and make an appearance in someone’s dining room. 

And what of the value of your pieces, will they be worth more or less than you paid in years to come?  Well, who knows, things go in and out of fashion.  Christies’ English furniture specialist Ned encouraged me to look at it from a different perspective; you have to buy everything you use in your house and daily life, be it a table to eat from or a chair to sit on.  Hopefully you will have delighted in them and if they are worth a little less than you paid, well they have served their time and purpose for your family’s needs which is priceless. 


Learning how to auction with Christies’ has been one of the highlights of my year.  Their personable specialists, excellent stock and central London sale rooms have demystified my perception of auctions and been the most engaging retail experience I’ve had in ages.  Happily now we are in Autumn, the auction season at Christie’s is in full swing, check their calendar for sale dates www.christies.com and happy bidding!