Art Auctions: How to buy art at auctions online?

How to buy art at auctions online?

Buying at art auctions online can be daunting, even if you are an art expert.  Our experts have gathered some tips to help you in buying at art auctions online.

Understanding the pre-sale estimates

The presale estimates should be determined by the auction house employee and the owner (the consigner) with an attempt to set up a reasonable price and not wishful thinking or attempts to start an auction fever, i.e. attract bids.  Even then, these estimates are not based on the fair value of the art or necessarily predictive of the final outcome.  They can be based on other public sales of what are supposed to be comparable artworks but may not have anything to do with the actual artworks being auctioned.

If an auction Website, such as eBay, permits the owner to set the pre-sale estimate, with consulting with the actual auction house’s consultants, please proceed with care.


Reality, if it is too good to be true, it probably is.  If an artwork can be acquired for a price significantly below its estimate, it can mean that the work is not of good quality, it may not be in a good condition, the authenticity is in doubt or simply that the presale estimate was set too high.  


Sophisticated auction buyers always set a limit to what they are going to pay for an artwork.  Try to not fall in for the frenzy that might result occasionally for an artwork. Be careful -  at times, it is someone bidding for the artwork, on behalf of the actual owner of the artwork.  Sometimes, if an artwork by an artist sees a great result, people tend to start overbidding for mush less interesting works by the same artist.  


Ask the Website, whether they are will in guarantee the authenticity of the artwork.  If they say no, please step away.  

Condition of the Art

Again, ask the Website or find out, whether they are will in guarantee the condition of the artwork, If they say no, it is strongly recommended to not proceed to avoid major disappointments.

Work with an Art Dealer / Gallery

Working with an art dealer can help you avoid such pitfalls and most art dealers are willing to do this for a fee.  They can help you do research on the artwork and its condition and details, ensure that you are not over paying and help you determine the right price.  Naturally, they will only do this for artworks that are above a certain amount.

Art auctions at Websites are extremely tricky and that is why the vast majority of artworks on such Websites either never receive any bids or never close sales.  Often such Websites fail to guarantee the authenticity, quality or condition of the art, the presale estimates are set by the owner, who are generally non-experts and as a whole, these auctions can be extremely risky.  Please proceed with care and see what other alternatives may be available. / PicassoMio Gallery Services

As a full-service gallery and dealer, we are able to provide consulting to auction buyers, whereby, we:

- Review the artwork, its condition, quality and the available documentation
- Hire a professional restorer, if need be, to determine if an artwork is not in perfect condition and if it can be safe restored
- Preview exhibitions and auctions
- Help determine the bids
- Execute the bids

If you an art collector and are interested in artworks, with estimate prices of $100,000 or more, please contact us with your complete details.

- Allan Majotra, and PicassoMio Galleries