Buyer's and seller's premiums

Auctioneers charge buyers and sellers a percentage of the hammer price - known respectively as the buyer's premium and the seller's premium (the latter is also referred to as vendor's premium, vendor's commission or seller's commission). This fee in the UK is usually also subject to VAT.

Each auctioneer sets its own rates for these premiums. Check their terms and conditions for details.

Christie’s match Sotheby’s on new buyer’s premium rates

05 February 2007

CHRISTIE’S have announced that they are raising their 20 per cent buyer’s premium threshold from £100,000 ($200,000) to £250,000 ($500,000). The move matches that made by Sotheby’s in mid January.

20% premium on every lot under £250,000 at Sotheby’s

22 January 2007

Dramatic rise in threshold points to battle royal for top end of market

Woolley & Wallis up premium

02 September 2006

Salisbury auctioneers Woolley & Wallis are putting up their buyer’s premium from 15 to 17.5 per cent plus VAT.

New owner at Cottees cuts charges by a third or more

25 July 2006

DORSET auctioneers Cottees are under new ownership and have bucked the trend of rising charges in the saleroom by cutting both their buyer’s premium and vendor’s charges.

Improved commission margins help Sotheby’s prosper as sales fall

16 August 2005

Despite a substantial fall in total sales, increases in buyer’s premium and vendor’s commission margins helped Sotheby’s post record revenues for the second quarter of 2005.

L&T change premium structure

27 April 2005

Edinburgh auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull have announced substantial changes to their buyer’s premium structure.

Nicholson to raise premium

07 February 2005

Following the lead of The Fine Art Auction Group, Fernhurst auctioneers John Nicholson are to increase their buyer’s premium from 15 to 17.5 per cent.


Sleepers and sale charges underline the pluses for country rooms.

25 January 2005

Lawrences, Bletchingley Buyer’s premium: 12.5 per centTHE unceasing campaign among provincial auctioneers to bring the right material to the rostrum is, perhaps, tougher the nearer one is to London. However, salerooms outside the capital can compete both on vendors’ charges and by accepting pieces turned down by the metropolitan’s top three.

Auction group up premium across network

18 January 2005

The Fine Art Auction Group have raised their buyer’s premium across their network of provincial salerooms.

…as Christie’s fall into line with Sotheby’s

18 January 2005

Christie’s are to modify their buyer’s premium structure to fall in line with their biggest rival.

Sotheby’s to change premium thresholds

22 December 2004

Sotheby’s are to change the thresholds of their buyer’s premium structure from January 1, 2005.

Christie’s to match Sotheby’s on premium: Paris will see steepest rise

08 December 2004

CHRISTIE'S are to increase their buyer’s premium. With effect from January 1, 2005, the current 19.5 per cent premium which is charged on the first £70,000/$100,000/€110,000 will increase by 0.5 per cent to 20 per cent at almost all Christie’s sites.

Bonhams review auction charges: Premium changes shift burden off seller and on to buyer

23 March 2004

From April 1 Bonhams will increase the buyer’s premium in their Knightsbridge rooms to bring it in line with that charged at Bond Street.

CSK raise premium

09 February 2004

Christie’s South Kensington increase their buyer’s premium from February 11: The new rate will be 19.5 per cent of the final bid price of each lot up to £70,000 and 12 per cent on the excess of the hammer price above £70,000, the same premium currently charged at Christie’s King Street.

Premium paid for walnut bureau is far from miniature

26 August 2003

There is always a premium placed upon unrestored Georgian walnut. There is equally a premium to be paid for miniature pieces. Combine the two and it explains the level of competition achieved for this 18th century miniature bureau at Woolley & Wallis’s July 15 furniture sale.

Phillips restructure their premiums

23 September 2002

PHILLIPS, de Pury & Luxembourg have raised and restructured their buyer’s premiums.

Bloomsbury market sale by dropping the premium

23 September 2002

LONDON antiquarian books saleroom Bloomsbury Book Auctions are to sell a major library with no buyer’s premium – partially as a marketing exercise. Managing director Rupert Powell believes this is the first time since the premium was introduced in the 1970s that a British auction house has waived the levy.

MP calls for Bill to outlaw the buyer’s premium

01 July 2002

AN MP who has described himself as a lifelong attender of auctions has told Parliament he wants to introduce a Bill that would outlaw the buyer’s premium.

Christie’s match Sotheby’s on their buyer’s premium rates

15 April 2002

TWO weeks after Sotheby’s raised their buyer’s premium rates for their premier salerooms, Christie’s have matched them. Both companies now charge 19.5% on the first $100,000 and 10 per cent thereafter.

Bonhams restructure charges to attract top-end business

21 March 2002

Bonhams increased the buyer’s premium on their lower price tier for purchases this month. From March 1 a new rate applies of 17.5 per cent (plus VAT) on the first £30,000 and 10 per cent thereafter.