Professional Advice for Bidding and Buying Through Online Art Auctions

November 1, 2016

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online art auctionOnline art auctions are becoming more and more popular as a way for collectors to find and purchase fine contemporary art, even in the world of glass. Exemplary artists such as Ann Wolff, who first gained attention in the late 1960s as a founder of the international Studio Glass Movement, have sold pieces for thousands of dollars through online auctions with major houses such as Christie’s.

As digital auctions become more prevalent, collectors should be aware of the many benefits of online bidding, but also the potential pitfalls. In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal called “What You Need to Know About Online Art Auctions,” some professional art advisers offered their best pieces of advice for online art auctions:

  • Understand the refund policy
    Many people who bid for artwork online may have never seen the piece in real life. If an item arrives and is not in the condition promised (or worse, turns out to be a forgery), many auction sites offer full refunds. However, the time limit to be eligible for those refunds may be anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. Check with the terms and agreements of every auction before you buy.
  • Get the facts
    Some online-only auction houses are less thorough in their research and write-ups of the artwork for sale. While the time and expenses saved from this procedure can translate to more favorable purchasing prices, it also requires more research and knowledge on behalf of the buyer herself. Consult with an expert if you have any lingering questions.
  • Uncover the full history
    Unlike brick-and-mortar auction houses, online art auction sites don’t necessarily have to reveal whether certain items go unsold at auction. This missing information can obscure the valuation of a piece or similar items, which are largely based on the prices people are or are not willing to pay for them.

In the end, however, online art auctions are a tremendous way to grow any collection, from anywhere around the world.

“I have found things online that I can’t find in brick-and-mortar galleries or auction houses,” said New York-based art adviser Wendy Cromwell. “You go where you find what you want.”

Is your art collection missing something? Click around and discover modern glass artwork for the discerning collector or gallery owner.