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Currently in the UK, Bonhams charge 20 per cent on the first £250,000 and then 12 per cent thereafter. Christie's and Sotheby's charge 25 per cent on the first £25,000 in the UK, with 20 per cent from that point up to £500,000 and 12 per cent thereafter.

There are slight adjustments in premium at Bonhams' salerooms across other countries according to local currencies, and some specialist sales, such as wine, coins and stamps, operate differing premium structures.

The company's chairman, Robert Brooks, said: "We are now competing with Sotheby's and Christie's globally in all areas of art and antiques, so it is important that we maintain our competitiveness, which means matching their buyer's premium rates."