Any amount of online information by way of photos etc can be disseminated to the bidding public but from over 50 years of auction experience, I feel there is no substitute for being able to handle and examine an object in the flesh. For me, bidding in person in an auction room is the best way to gauge the depth of interest in any particular object and bid accordingly. Photos can be flattering and condition reports are somewhat subjective.
Comments have been made that the new generation of bidders are the Amazon generation used to online activity but the terms of engagement are not the same.
Unless I am mistaken, auction houses’ terms and conditions are carefully worded to, with the exception of outright fakes, put all the onus on the bidder to check what they are bidding on. None will take back an item because the successful bidder decides, when they see the object in the flesh, that they do not like it.
I have noticed during the pandemic a significant increase in online bidders who bid excessively higher than estimates or historical market prices. Maybe this is due to new bidders who have either cabin fever during lockdown or are just inexperienced and do not do their research. It will be interesting to see what happens in future years when these same bidders take back their purchases to auction houses for sale.
Mark Welk, via email