ATG's story on Sotheby’s introducing a new 1% fee on the hammer price in addition to buyer’s premium ( ATG No 2454).

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The auction house’s suggestion that this 1% increase is justified to cover “the overhead costs relating to our facilities, property handling and other administrative expenses” begs a question about the purpose of the buyer’s premium.

Sotheby’s statement is as disingenuous as Arsenal Football Club’s justification for sacking backroom staff so that the club has the ‘resources to return to competing effectively at the top of the game…’.

Martin P Levy

H Blairman & Sons

St James’s, London

Existing costs

MADAM – An auction house exists to dispose of an item on behalf of a client. They are answerable under English Law to the client only.

If the auction house chooses to promote the item so that it increases in value, both the seller and the auction house benefit.

The statement issued by Sotheby’s to justify its new fee mentions overhead costs, property handling and administrative costs, all associated with delivering great service and experiences in a competitive market.

Every one of these reasons has existed since auction houses came into being so one is left assuming that Sotheby’s cannot exist without another 1% of £1.9 billion of revenue.

While I fully appreciate any auction house needing to keep the charge to the seller as low as possible to attract consignments, one must question what is a fair amount for the auction house to be entitled to earn with little to no risk involved to it whatsoever.

Sotheby’s will not be receiving items that I may wish to sell nor any recommendations from us to our clients should the opportunity arise for estate disposal.

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