Christie’s hikes fees in a cooling market

Christie’s has become the latest auction house to increase its buyer’s premium thresholds, bringing them almost in line with Sotheby’s and Phillips’s rates, which were increased in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Christie’s new rates are 25% on the first £100,000 ($150,000), 20% between £100,001 ($150,001) and £2m ($3m), and 12% above £2m ($3m). The last time Christie’s updated its fees was in October 2013. As the market cools, auction houses are increasingly focused on their bottom line. Raising their thresholds, rather than the actual percentages, is an effective way of increasing revenue from middle market sales, which are often less costly and more profitable than the evening sales. This year, Sotheby’s increased commission structure was widely credited for helping increase its margins to 16.4% in the second quarter, compared with 15.5% in the same period in 2015.