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The announcement of their new rates in the UK, US and Hong Kong comes only days after Christie’s emailed their clients outlining changes to their own buyer’s premium schedule.

Bonhams’ new buyer’s premium exactly mirrors Christie’s adjusted rates in the three most important global markets. The changes at Bonhams will apply to all sales except motor cars, wine and coins & medals and will come into force on October 31.

Bonhams new buyer's premium rates:


25% - up to £100,000

20% - from £100,001 to £2m:                                                                            

12%: thereafter


25% - up to $150,000

20% - from $150,001 to $3m

12% - thereafter

Hong Kong

25% - up to HK$1.2m

20% - from HK$1,200,001 to HK$20m

12% - thereafter

The previous rates were:

25% - up to £50,000/$100,000/ HK$800,000

20% - from £50,001/$100,001/ HK$800,001 up to £1m/$2m/ HK$15m

12% - thereafter

By widening the thresholds where the percentage fees apply, auctioneers can increase their cut of the amount buyers pay without changing the headline percentage rates.

Under the new rates a bid of £100,000 will now command an extra £2500 in fees (£125,000 instead of £122,500). This represents a net percentage increase in buyer’s premium from 22.5% to 25%.

It is widely believed that auctioneers usually raise their buyer’s premium not just to gain extra margins from buyers, but also to allow them to negotiate more flexible deals with vendors to win consignments in the first place.

Global CEO of Bonhams Matthew Girling said: “This change harmonises our thresholds with those of our major rivals and is an important part of maintaining our global competitiveness.”