Christie’s increases buyer’s premium rates for first time in more than a year (with detailed pricings)

International auction house Christie's announced adjustments to its buyer's premium rates – the first increase in more than a year.

This time, the adjustment charges an extra 1 per cent in the lowest threshold of hammer price. The upper limit of hammer price in the lowest threshold increased between 50 and 75 per cent – depending on the saleroom location, while the highest threshold and remaining two rate percentages have not changed.  

The new rates were effective on 7 February – their details can be found in the tables below:

Christie's last adjustment dates to September 2020. During that time, it focused on the buyer’s premium rate in the highest threshold increased from 13.5 to 14.5 per cent. The remaining two thresholds remained at 25 and 20 per cent.

This time, the buyer’s premium adjustment is the lowest threshold, which increased from 25 to 26 per cent. The remaining two levels are unchanged at 20 and 14.5 per cent.

Take the Hong Kong saleroom as an example, the upper limit of hammer price in the lowest threshold increased from HK$5 million to HK$7.5 million dollars. In the past, this meant that lots with a hammer price of HK$5 million dollars or less would have to pay a 25 per cent buyer’s premium. This year, any lot hammered at HK$7.5 million dollars or less will bear a 26 per cent buyer’s premium.

Another major change is in the Shanghai saleroom. The buyer’s premium rates changed from the previous 20 per cent to the introduction of three thresholds. These thresholds are now the same as saleroom locations such as Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris.

For major salerooms such as New York, London, Geneva and Paris, the increase of upper limits are as follows:

New York: US$600,000 to US$1 million

London: £450,000 to £700,000

Geneva: CHF 600,000 to 900,000

Paris: €400,000 to €700,000

As for the buyer’s premium rates of fine wine sales, both Hong Kong and Shanghai remain at 25 per cent. For salerooms in London, Paris and Geneva, the buyer’s premium rates increased from 22.5 to 25 per cent.

Fine wine auctions in Los Angeles replace ones formerly found in New York. During January this year, Christie’s Wine Department Americas held its first online sale of fine and rare wines in the Californian city. Its buyer's premium rate is 25 per cent – same as the New York saleroom previously. 

This time, Christie’s announced an increase in their buyer’s premium rates first – whether its primary competitor, Sotheby’s, follows suit remains to be seen.