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Christie's Raises Buyer's Premium on Wine

Fee for auction purchases increases to 17.5 percent this year.

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: January 6, 2003

Christie's auction house has announced a new buyer's premium for wine sales in the United States. As of Jan. 1, the fee has increased from 15 percent to 17.5 percent, although the premium will drop to 10 percent on hammer prices in excess of $100,000. From a practical standpoint, the new premium goes into effect on Feb. 28, when NYWinesChristie's holds its first auction of the year.

For London wine sales, Christie's has kept its 10 percent buyers' premium intact.

Christie's new fee for wine keeps pace with that charged at Aulden Cellars-Sotheby's, which raised its buyer's premium to 17.5 percent in April 2002.

Among the other major wine auctioneers, Acker Merrall & Condit and Zachys currently charge a 16 percent buyer's fee. Butterfields, Morrell & Co. and Sotheby's London levy a 15 percent premium. None of these firms have given any indication of plans for a rate change in 2003.

Regular auction-goers will recall that, in 2000, allegations over collusion in commission rate fixing led to civil lawsuits against Christie's and Sotheby's, as well as criminal actions against some executives.

That litigation has been settled, and all class-action members (who were identified from the records of Christie's and Sotheby's) should now have received individualized forms to claim a rebate. Those eligible for the rebate include people who purchased items at Christie's or Sotheby's between Jan. 1, 1993, and Feb. 7, 2000, and those who sold items between Sept. 1, 1995, and Feb. 7, 2000.

For more information on the rebates, contact Auction Houses Litigation by phone at (888) 469-4788 or by mail at P.O. Box 9436, Garden City, NY 11530-9436. Or visit its Web site at www.auctionsettlement.com.

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