The battlefield in the art world has always taken place at the art auctions where wealthy collectors and art speculators have all converged in the salesroom to compete with each other. It provides a strange delight for the onlookers who have attended the event to specifically have a look at all the action. When an art auction performs poorly, it undermines the confidence of the entire industry. For those getting started, it can be tremendous fun to watch, and sometimes the record-high prices elicit a gasp and roaring applause. If a person has no familiarity with the baroque logic of the art auctions, it might sound like an impenetrable mystery.
The showman of the art world, the auction employs humor and drama to raise the prices even from the most reluctant of bidders. Each auctioneer has his signature style, and the younger generation of art gavelers has leaned more towards the edgy and in-your-face style.
Known as the Excalibur of the auctioneer, he wields this combination of baton and judge’s gavel with astounding alacrity. When it comes down, sometimes it taps the table lightly. Other times, a crashes with an unmistakable thunk to show a sale has been completed.
A snooty cousin of the ping pong paddle, this numbered instrument gets used as a telegraph to bid. Many of the high-flying buyers have chosen one of the more discreet approached to help in signaling the auctioneer, but sometimes the process can be as simple as nodding.
An appraisal gives the art collector the approximate market value of the items at the auction house. This is the process of developing an informed opinion on the value of an art collection. This will get assigned to a lot from the specialists of the auction house.
The estimate is what a particular work will fetch in the sale. Art collectors will see both the high end of the estimate and the lower estimate. For example, they might have something that says anywhere from $14,000,000 to $18,000,000.
These are some of the terms for a beginner to understand about art auctions. Sometimes a dealer will bid on behalf of an artist he or she represents, and he ensures that the price of the work never drops below a specific price range.