Buying at Auction
Auctions are a fun and convenient experience for collectors, now with more bidding options than ever. Check out our catalogues online or visit our public exhibitions to find something you love. Experienced specialists at Swann are always available to answer questions and assist you through the auction process. Swann Galleries offers several ways to bid in our auctions so you can buy in the way that’s most comfortable for you, from our auction room, to your desk, or on the move. You can find more information below. Good luck!
How To Bid
- Familiarize yourself with our Terms and Conditions of Sale and Advice to Prospective Bidders. Take note of our buyer's premium, and discuss accepted payment and pickup methods with a member of our team.
- Visit an exhibition or view our online catalogue.
- Ask questions: Swann specialists are accessible in person, by phone or email. Their contact info can be found on department pages.
- Choose a bidding method.
- Due to COVID-19 our ability to facilitate phone bidding is limited and in-person bidding may not be possible. Please contact us with any questions you have.
In PersonRegister in person for a paddle just before or during the auction.
By PhoneWe’ll call you and bid on your behalf during the auction. Call (212) 254-4710 to register or or sign up here.
AbsenteeSubmit bids in advance via any lot view page in our online catalogues, authorizing the auctioneer to bid up to your specified limit.
Swann Galleries App
Swann LiveA new live online bidding platform for desktop. Notify me when this is available.
InvaluableAll of our auctions are available for live and advance bidding via our partnership with Invaluable.
Still not sure how to bid? Get in touch.
- Can I buy print catalogues?
- Printed auction catalogues can be purchased online or in person. You can also purchase a subscription to receive all catalogues for sales in your area of interest.
- Why should I register for a Swann account?
- Register for an account on our site to place bids, track lots you are interested in, sign up for keyword alerts, and more.
- When can I pick up and pay for my purchase?
- Purchases cannot be claimed until after the auction, and invoices are generated approximately an hour after the sale has concluded. If you are not present, a preliminary invoice will be sent to you via e-mail, and a final invoice will be mailed to you within a week of the sale date. We do not accept credit cards, payment must be made by cash, check or bank transfer.
- How much is the buyer's premium?
- Our buyer's premium and any applicable sales tax and shipping costs, as outlined in Terms and Conditions of Sale, are added to the hammer price of each lot sold. For any item purchased directly through Swann, the buyer's premium is 25% of the hammer price, up to and including $100,000; 20% of the hammer price above $100,000 up to and including $1,000,000; 12% of the hammer price after $1,000,000.
- An additional buyer's premium is charged when purchasing items through a third-party service like Invaluable.
- What is the minimum price for a lot?
- The minimum acceptable bid at Swann is half the low estimate. We refer to this as the house reserve.
- What is involved in bidding by telephone?
- Specify the lots you wish to bid on and provide a phone number where a Swann employee can reach you during the auction. The staff member will call you about five lots before your first lot. When your lot comes up, the Swann representative will tell you the opening bid and subsequent competitive bids; you will indicate when you wish to bid, and the staff member will signal your bids to the auctioneer.
- Hammer Price vs. Price Realized
- The hammer price is the winning bid. The price realized is the hammer price, plus the buyer's premium.
- How are estimates determined?
- The estimate is a value range based on prices fetched at auction by similar items, dealer's prices, and the specialist's knowledge of the current market.
Get Auction Updates
Our timely email updates share what's next at Swann: our schedule, catalogues, exhibitions and news.
View our full list of upcoming auctions for scheduling information, previews, and available catalogues. Lots are posted online about a month before each sale.