A friend of mine noticed something new while visiting the presale exhibitions of Asian art sales at Sotheby’s last week: Label, placed right under the traditional lot information, that said, “Clients who wish to bid on this lot are required to complete the pre-registration form and to pay a deposit of $150,000.”
Both Sotheby’s and Christie’s, it turned out, have been asking for such hefty deposits on some lots for the last few years, particularly for Asian art, where they’ve been burned by non-payers. But Sotheby’s is the one that is being so transparent about it. Sotheby’s calls them “premium lots” and here’s an example.
This might seem a little “inside baseball” for RCA readers, so I wrote a short item for the Art in America website — posted here.
I think this — transparency — is a good thing. While one dealer said it might deter spontaneous bidders, I can see the rationale.