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“Sold!” Or is it? Auction Houses & Chandelier Bidding

“Sold for $500 to Norma Bernstein!” The auctioneer slams their gavel and the auction moves forward after another successful sale.

However, there was no successful sale. Wait…What?!

The practice of Chandelier Bidding, otherwise known as Buy-In bidding, Rafter bidding, Off-the-wall bidding, Consecutive bidding, Vendor bidding, or Consignor bidding, is the practice where “the auctioneer pretends to take a bid from the room in order to encourage bidding, create the appearance of demand, or to push bidding closer to the reserve price” (Hyperallergic). In other words, it’s a fake bid.

Auction houses benefit from chandelier bidding because it gives the illusion of a stronger auction. Most auctions believe in the power that mood can have on the auction floor: The appearance of bids begets more bids, the appearance of passed lots begets more passed lots. According to this logic, buy-in bids actually produce a more successful auction overall by keeping spirits up on the floor. Likewise, buy-in bids can also encourage current bidders to bid past the reserve price (if bidding does not reach reserve price, the item remains unsold).

For assistance consigning to auction, call Drew Magnusson today at 973-425-1550.


Co-Authors: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Becky Lipnick, Communications Coordinator

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