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Previously, buyers at both auction houses paid 25 per cent on the first £10,000 or $20,000, followed by 20 per cent up to £25,000 or $50,000 and 12 per cent above that. Under the new rates, buyers will face a charge of 25 per cent on the first £25,000 or $50,000, followed by 20 per cent up to £500,000 or $1m, and 12 per cent thereafter.

As both Christie’s and Sotheby’s try to focus on higher value pieces, it is the buyers of their ‘middle range’ art and antiques who will face the highest commission charges.