News & Views

Auctions with lost, misplaced and/or abandoned property

2 January 2018

Auctioneers deal in all kinds of property. Week to week, it could be a car, gun, coin, diamond ring, lawn tractor, horse … or even $8,000: the list goes on. Any of these personal property items could be lost, misplaced and/or abandoned. What does all that mean for an auctioneer?

Property is generally deemed to have been …


Sotheby’s report robust worldwide sales for 2017

27 December 2017

Concluding their 2017 auctions for the week ending Dec 21, Sotheby’s reportedly reached annual sales totalling US$7.4 billion. The figure is said to show a 13.1% increase over the results of 2016.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong also claims to lead all international houses in Asia with an annual auction total of S$850 million. Asian clients contributed over 30% to Sotheby’s worldwide sales this year, reaching a total of US$ 1.6 billion. Online buyers have spent more than US$ 180 million, with 23% of all lots sold, purchased online.

Selling absolute mandates you “reopen bids?”

12 December 2017

Selling absolute (without reserve) dictates that the subject property is selling to the highest bidder. In other words, the buyer must be the one offering the most consideration.

However, does selling absolute mandate you reopen the bid if another bid comes in as the hammer is falling, after the hammer falls, after 24 hours, 3 days, a month …?

Absolute and high bidder isn't the buyer?

8 December 2017

We’ve discussed “cut bids” and “refusing bids” and the like before. So, here’s the bottom line of sorts. As an auctioneer/seller if you are selling a lot (property) without reserve (absolute) and put it up for bid — and receive a bid within a reasonable time — you are bound to sell it to the highest bidder.


If you don’t, your seller is open to a lawsuit by the high bidder seeking specific performance. In other words, the high bidder (even if not the buyer) can sue the seller for title. The two most notable cases regarding are here:

Sotheby's new S|2 Gallery HK director

5 December 2017

Sotheby’s announces the appointment of Jonathan Wong as gallery director, responsible for originating and presenting selling exhibitions for Sotheby’s S|2 Gallery in Hong Kong today. He will also continue to support Sotheby’s auctions of Contemporary Art in Asia.

Can auctioneers ignore bids?

4 December 2017

Selective hearing? I only see or hear bids I want to? I only have to accept offers which are acceptable to me, regardless if they are higher than the current bid? There’s only one person in charge at an auction — the auctioneer?

It’s important for auctioneers to understand that first — they are typically agents for the seller (unless they are the seller,) and not ultimately in charge over the seller, but rather work for the seller. Secondly, without bidder/buyers, auctions can be lonely places.

What exactly does selling at absolute auction mean?

29 November 2017

The word “absolute” in regard to auctions legally means the subject property is selling without reserve. Without reserve means several things including no minimum bid, no seller confirmation, no right of withdrawal after a bid is placed …, no seller bidding, no “canvassing bidders” to see if we’re going to open the auction, and the like.