Bonhams has raised its buyer’s premium levels effective from March 4. Photo credit: Grant Smith.

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Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips all raised their buyer’s premium levels in February, although without introducing the new 27.5% threshold.

A Bonhams spokesperson said: “Bonhams has introduced the new threshold band to reflect the cost of bringing an object to global auctions.”

The Bonhams changes, effective from March 4, apply to all categories excluding cars, motorbikes, wine and coin & medal sales.

Sotheby’s increased its buyer’s premium to a level that goes beyond the recent changes announced by Christie’s, which had increased the price band at which its 25% threshold applies and added an extra percentage point to its charges above £3m. Sotheby’s 25% threshold applies across a wider range than Christie’s and the upper rate of 13.9% is higher than the 13.5% percentage charged by its rivals.

Bonhams’ buyer’s premium as of March 4, 2019

  • 27.5% on the first £2500/$3000 of the hammer price
  • 25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2500/$3000 up to and including £300,000/ $400,000
  • 20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000/$400,000 up to and including £3m/$4m
  • 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3m/$4m

Selling show

Meanwhile, from March 4-10, Bonhams conducted its first selling show of secondary market art in New York.

Paper Jam: Contemporary Works on Paper offered 32 works by 20 Modern and Contemporary artists with a price range from a few thousand dollars to six figures. At the time of going to press the firm said it had received multiple firm offers and some works were on reserve.


Among the works on offer at Bonhams' 'Paper Jam' selling show was Alexander Calder’s gouache and ink on paper 'Balloons', 1968, 2ft 7in x 23in (78 x 58cm).

Paper Jam is the first of what is planned as a series of selling exhibitions at Bonhams’ international salerooms. Muys Snijders, US head of post-war and contemporary art, told ATG the concept “is likely to travel to Los Angeles, Hong Kong and London with existing and new works to be included to appeal to different regions and audiences”. Snijders joined from Christie’s to head Bonhams’ post-war art department in December – the first hire under Bonhams’ new owner, private equity group Epiris.