Sotheby's to raise charges for art buyers

Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:29pm EST
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Buying art at Sotheby's (BID.N: Quote) will soon become more expensive as the top international auction house announced it is increasing its buyer's premium, the rates it charges a successful bidder.

Beginning on Sunday, anyone who purchases a work of art will pay 25 percent to the auction house on the first $200,000 of the hammer price, compared with the earlier threshold of $100,000.

Above $200,000 and up to and including $3 million the rate will be 20 percent, a rise from the earlier range of $100,000 to $2 million.

For the remainder of the hammer price above $3 million the charge will be 12 percent, compared with $2 million under the previous rate structure that has been in place since 2013.

Bill Ruprecht, the chairman and president of Sotheby's, said the changes were needed to boost the New York-based auction house financially.

"This will improve Sotheby's revenue, strengthen the company's profit margins, fund innovation, help us continue to make interesting and exciting investments in the business, and support our growing online and traditional engagement with clients around the world," Ruprecht said in a statement. He announced last year he would be leaving the company.

Sotheby's main competitor, Christie's, owned by French luxury-goods magnate Francois Pinault, last raised its rates two years ago. A spokeswoman said it had no plans to follow the example of Sotheby's, a publicly traded company.

Privately owned British auction house Bonhams said it also has no plans to change its premiums.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Jonathan Oatis)

 
Sotheby's employees pose with "Le Grand Canal", painted by Claude Monet, at Sotheby's preview in London January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth