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Through Art Market & You, Art From Us provides you Analysis, Opinion and Factual Reports regarding the current on-goings of the Global Art Market. In this article, we explore Art Auction terminology relating to party and price.

Art auction terminology can be quite confusing and daunting to young collectors or people without an art background. We are here to help you out. Following are a few key art auction terms relating to price and the parties involved in an art auction.

Art Auction Terminology : Price & Parties

Consignor – The consignor is the party (person/ institution etc.) who is putting up a work for auction i.e. the ‘seller’ of the work.

Consignee – the auction house is referred to as the consignee. Auction sales consist of 3 parties – consignor (seller), consignee (auction house) and buyer.

Buyer’s Premium – This is a surcharge amount the auction houses charges a buyer in exchange for the sale. The total price of the artwork purchased is cited including the buyer’s premium.

Hammer Price – the value at which the hammer confirms the sale of a work, before adding buyer’s premium.

Seller’s Commission – Seller’s commission refers a the price that auction houses may charge the consignor, in exchange for the service of selling artworks on their behalf. Typically auction houses want consignor to sell through them, and therefore waive seller’s commission to gain competitive advantage.

Reserve Price – The reserve refers to the minimum value which the consignor is willing to accept for the sale of the work at auction. When this reserve is not met at auction, the work is ‘bought in’. Officially, the reserve price remains undisclosed.

Pre-sale Estimate – The pre-sale estimate is a price range between which the auction house guesses a work may sell for. Thus, to arrive at such an estimate, the work is first appraised by the auction house’s experts.

Auction Preview – Art auction previews are typically held in the form of an exhibition at the auction house, shortly before the scheduled auction. The preview gives prospective buyers a chance to inspect the art up close.

Lot – a lot refers to a work of set of works at auction, identified by a specific ‘lot number’.

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