A Beginner’s Guide to Navigating Online Art Auction Sites

September 30, 2016

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Much like the rest of the world, the contemporary art world is increasingly moving business into the digital realm. A full 71% of art collectors say they have purchased art online in some fashion. Even the major auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s now have online art auction sites, where collectors can bid and buy from anywhere on the globe with the click of a mouse or a swipe of the finger.

However, online art auction sites can be intimidating for the uninitiated. Here are a few tips, suggestions, and pointers for collectors eager to expand their purchasing options and find valuable deals through the web.

  • Do Your Research

    As with any auction, it’s important to go into the sale knowing as much as you possibly can about the work, its condition, its value, its artist, its history, and more. This information can help you determine a fair asking price for the piece and help prevent you from overspending. Alternatively, it might help you snag a great deal on an undervalued work.

  • Set a Spending Limit

    It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of online bidding. If you don’t set firm limits, you may find yourself overextending your wallet in the heat of the chase. Predetermine a maximum bid — and make sure it accounts for any extra auction fees or shipping costs. Be sure to consider the value of the object not only in terms of its market worth, but its personal value as a part of your collection.

  • Bid Confidently

    Too much hesitation in your bids can result in lost opportunities, especially in the rapid-paced world of online art auction sites. Try to bid “live” as much as possible, rather than sending in an absentee bid. You’re much more likely to secure the pieces you want at better prices when you’re able to control your bidding as precisely and effectively as possible.

Online art auction sites open up many opportunities for collectors and art enthusiasts that wouldn’t have been possible in an age before the Internet. You may miss hearing the sound of the closing gavel, but you’ll love the new chances to capture beautiful and rare pieces from around the world, no matter where you are.