Sotheby's Australia

How to Buy & Sell

Selling Privately at Sotheby's Australia

Clients interested in selling or buying works outside of our auction timeline can consider the option of a Private Sale.  Over the years, countless private transactions have been negotiated through Sotheby’s Australia on behalf of our clients.  Our direct access to Australia’s most active collectors uniquely qualifies Sotheby’s Australia to facilitate lucrative transactions off the auction floor as well as on.

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How do private sales differ from auctions?

Private Sales complement Sotheby’s Australia’s year-round calendar of auctions.  When brokering a Private Sale, members of our accomplished and knowledgeable network of experts work one-on-one with the consignor to formulate an individualised approach to selling in accordance with the client’s needs and schedule.  Sotheby’s Australia will then approach potential buyers to obtain the best offer on the client’s behalf, maintaining the renowned level of discretion we exercise in the auction process.  For those clients hoping to buy privately, Sotheby’s Australia’s specialists will reach out to our network of contacts in order to source the property you are seeking.

What does Sotheby’s Australia sell privately? 

Private Sales are handled through our specialist departments, and are typically organised for high value objects and works of art.  If you have property you are interested in consigning with Sotheby’s Australia, please contact the appropriate specialist department to discuss sale options or our general enquiries inbox at

How long does the process take?

This depends on the specific needs of the parties involved, a Private Sale may be executed quickly or gradually. When you contact us as a consignor, we research and evaluate your property and begin our search for the appropriate buyer. Similarly, if you are looking to buy, we will use our network of contacts to source the property you require.

Should you consign a work with Sotheby’s Australia for Private Sale, we would present you with an agreement outlining our exclusive right to offer the work for a specified period of time. We would then discreetly begin to offer the work to individual potential purchasers, one at a time, while keeping you informed on our progress.

Upon the successful sale of your property, Sotheby’s Australia collects the agreed-upon commission.

If a Private Sale is not completed, you retain the option of consigning your work to a subsequent Sotheby’s Australia auction.

Does Sotheby’s Australia have a strong track record in Private Sales?

Each year, Sotheby’s Australia conducts numerous Private Sales on behalf of our clients. In the past couple of years, Sotheby’s Australia’s private transactions have exceeded $4 million annually and represent about 20% of all property sold annually.

How does the level of discretion in a Private Sale differ from that of an auction?

Whether a sale is made privately or through auction, Sotheby’s Australia will never disclose the identity of a buyer or consignor unless it is the express wish of the client to publicise their identity. However, while Sotheby’s Australia does release auction prices to the public, all aspects of a Private Sale are kept in the strictest confidence.

What fees are involved in Private Sales?

Private Sales are conducted on a commission basis.