UK Auction Buyer's Guide

Effective as of 15 October 2020

The following pages are designed to offer you information on how to buy at auction at Phillips. Our staff will be happy to assist you. The Conditions of Sale and Authorship Warranty published on our website at also govern the auction. Bidders are strongly encouraged to read them as they outline the legal relationship between Phillips, the seller and the buyer and describe the terms upon which items are bought at auction.

  1. A

    Before The Auction

    Catalogues & Catalogue Entries

    Our catalogues provide information on the lots for sale at the auction and are available on our website at and in hard copy. Lot details can also be viewed on the Phillips App. If you would like to purchase a hard copy catalogue for a Phillips auction, please visit our website or contact us at [email protected]

    Catalogue entries may include the history of ownership of a work of art, as well as the exhibition history of the property and references to the work in art publications. While we are careful in the cataloguing process, provenance, exhibition and literature references may not be exhaustive. In some cases we may not disclose the identity of previous owners where we are not authorised to do so. Please note that all dimensions of the property set out in the catalogue entry are approximate.

    Pre-auction viewings are open to the public and free of charge. The dates and times are published on our website at Our specialists are available to give advice and condition reports at viewings or by appointment.

    Pre-sale estimates are intended as a guide for prospective buyers. Any bid within the high and low estimate range should, in our opinion, offer a chance of success. However, many lots achieve prices below or above the pre-sale estimates. Pre-sale estimates do not include the buyer's premium or VAT.

    Where 'Estimate on Request' appears, please contact the specialist department for further information. As estimates can be subject to revision we suggest contacting us closer to the time of the auction.

    Estimates in non-local currencies

    Although the sale is conducted in pounds sterling, the pre-sale estimates in the auction catalogues may also be printed in other currencies. These estimates are approximate and provided as a courtesy to our clients. The exchange rates used are those applying on the last practical date before printing the catalogue. The rates may have changed between the time of printing the catalogue and the auction.


    Our catalogues include references to condition only in the descriptions of multiple works (e.g., prints). Such references, though, do not amount to a full description of condition. The absence of reference to the condition of a lot in the catalogue entry does not imply that the lot is free from faults or imperfections.

    Solely as a convenience to clients, Phillips may provide condition reports. In preparing such reports, our specialists assess the condition in a manner appropriate to the estimated value of the property and the nature of the auction in which it is included. While condition reports are prepared honestly and carefully, our staff are not professional restorers or trained conservators. We therefore encourage all prospective buyers to inspect the property at the pre-sale exhibitions and recommend, particularly in the case of any lot of significant value, that you retain your own restorer or professional advisor to report to you on the property's condition prior to bidding.

    Any prospective buyer of photographs or prints should always request a condition report because all such property is sold unframed, unless otherwise indicated in the condition report. If a lot is sold framed, Phillips accepts no liability for the condition of the frame. If we sell any lot unframed, we will be pleased to refer the purchaser to a professional framer.

    Symbols Used In The Catalogue

    You may see the following symbols referenced in the catalogue.

    ○ Guaranteed Property

    Lots designated with the symbol O are the subject of a minimum price guarantee. In such cases Phillips has guaranteed to the seller of the lot that regardless of the outcome of the sale the seller shall receive no less than a minimum sum. This guarantee may be provided solely by Phillips or jointly with a third party.

    ♦ Third Party Guarantee

    Where Phillips has agreed to a minimum price guarantee it assumes the financial risk of a lot failing to sell or selling for less than the minimum price guarantee. Because the sums involved can be significant Phillips may choose to share the burden of that financial risk with a third party. The third party shares the risk by committing in advance of the sale, usually by way of a written bid, to buy the lot for an agreed amount whether or not there are competing bidders for the lot. If there are competing bidders third party guarantors may also bid above any written bid. In this way the third-party guarantor assumes the risk of the bidding not reaching the amount of the minimum price guarantee.

    In return for underwriting or sharing this risk Phillips will usually compensate the third party. The compensation may be in the form of a fixed fee or an amount calculated by reference to the hammer price of the lot. If the third-party guarantor is the successful bidder Phillips will report the purchase price net of any fees paid to the third-party guarantor

    ⋑ Irrevocable Bid

    If a party has provided Phillips with an irrevocable bid ahead of the sale at a level which ensures the Lot will sell, we designate the lot with the symbol ⋑. The irrevocable bidder may be compensated for providing the irrevocable bid and may choose to bid in excess of the irrevocable bid. Compensation payable to the irrevocable bidder may be a fixed fee, a contingent fee or a combination of both. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder Phillips will report the purchase price net of any compensation paid to the irrevocable bidder

    Δ Property in Which Phillips Has an Ownership Interest

    Lots with this symbol indicate that Phillips owns the lot in whole or in part or has an economic interest in the lot equivalent to an ownership interest.

    • No Reserve

    Unless indicated by a •, all lots in this catalogue are offered subject to a reserve. A reserve is the confidential value established between Phillips and the seller and below which a lot may not be sold. The reserve for each lot is generally set at a percentage of the low estimate and will not exceed the low pre-sale estimate.

    Ж Property Subject to US Import Tariffs

    Lots with this symbol indicate that the Property may be subject to additional tariffs upon importation into the United States of America. See paragraph 17 of the Conditions of Sale.

    ∑ Endangered Species

    Lots with this symbol have been identified at the time of cataloguing as containing endangered or other protected species of wildlife which may be subject to restrictions regarding export or import and which may require permits for export as well as import.

    Calculating the Total Purchase Price

    If you are the successful bidder on a Lot, the total purchase price you pay is made up of the following elements:

    Hammer Price


    Buyer's Premium


    VAT on Buyer's Premium and/or Hammer Price
    (if applicable)


    Artist's Resale Royalty (ARR)
    (if applicable)


    The Hammer Price: This is the final, highest bid which the auctioneer accepts by bringing down the auctioneer's hammer.

    Buyer's Premium: This is the commission Phillips charges the successful highest bidder and buyer of the lot. The Buyer's premium is calculated on the hammer price of the lot at the following rates on a cumulative basis:

    • 26% on the portion of the hammer price up to and including £450,000; and

    • 21% on the portion of the hammer price above £450,000 up to and including £4,500,000 and

    • 14.5% on the portion of the hammer price above £4,500,000.

    Where VAT is payable on the Buyer's premium the VAT inclusive Buyer's Premium rates are 31.2%, 25.2 % and 17.4% respectively.


    Most items we sell are sold under UK Auctioneer's Margin Scheme rules. This means that VAT is charged at 20% on the buyer's premium and will not be shown separately on the invoice. UK Auctioneer's Margin Scheme lots have no VAT symbol.

    Where the lot has a †, ‡ or Ω symbol against it, VAT may be charged on a different basis. For full details, including how to claim VAT refunds, please see the VAT & Tax Guide in this Auction Buyer's Guide and on our website

    ♠ Artist's Resale Royalty (ARR)

    The laws in certain countries entitle qualifying artists or their estates to a royalty when the artist's works are re-sold for a hammer price of EUR 1,000 or more. Lots subject to ARR are marked with the symbol ♠. The ARR is calculated as a percentage of the hammer price on a cumulative basis as follows and is payable as part of the purchase price:

    Portion of the Hammer Price (in EUR) Royalty Rate
    From 0 to 50,000 4%
    From 50,000.01 to 200,000 3%
    From 200,000.01 to 350,000 1%
    From 350,000.01 to 500,000 0.5%
    Exceeding 500,000 0.25%

    The total charge for ARR on any single lot cannot exceed Euros 12,500. To calculate the ARR, we use the pounds sterling/euro reference exchange rate quoted on the date of the auction by the European Central Bank.


    To illustrate how the purchase price is calculated, please see the below example:

    UK Auctioneer's Margin Scheme lot
    Hammer Price: £500,000
    Buyer's Premium including VAT @20% £153,000:

    26% of first £450,000 of the hammer price = £117,000 + 21% on the balance of

    £50,000 = £10,500

    Total BP = £127,500

    VAT @ 20% on the total BP of £127,500 = £25,500

  2. B

    At The Auction


    Bids may be executed during the auction in person, by paddle or by telephone or prior to the sale in writing by absentee bid. Proof of identity in the form of government-issued identification will be required, as will an original signature and proof of address. We may also require that you furnish us with a bank reference.

    Undisclosed agreements between bidders to bid or abstain from bidding on lots are illegal. Please note that Phillips monitors its sales and bidding records to ensure that bidding is transparent and fair and will take appropriate action in the event of any suspected breach of this requirement.

    In Person

    To bid in person, you will need to register for and collect a paddle before the auction begins. New clients are encouraged to register at least 48 hours in advance of a sale to allow sufficient time for us to process your information. All lots sold will be invoiced to the name and address to which the paddle has been registered and invoices cannot be transferred to other names and addresses. Please do not misplace your paddle. In the event you lose it, inform a Phillips staff member immediately. At the end of the auction, please return your paddle to the registration desk

    By Telephone

    If you cannot attend the auction, you may bid live on the telephone with one of our multilingual staff members. This service must be arranged at least 24 hours in advance of the sale and is available for lots whose low pre-sale estimate is at least £500. Telephone bids may be recorded. By bidding on the telephone, you consent to the recording of your conversation. We suggest that you leave a maximum bid, excluding the buyer's premium and VAT, which we can execute on your behalf in the event we are unable to reach you by telephone.

    Online Bidding

    With our digital saleroom, you can livestream auctions and place bids from anywhere in the world.

    Download the Phillips iOS or Android app or bid from your preferred browser. Our digital saleroom is optimized for Google Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge.

    If you would like to bid using our digital saleroom, please register within 24 hours from the start of the sale in order to be approved by our bid department. The first time you register you will be required to create an account; thereafter you will only need to register for each sale. Please note, corporate firewalls may cause difficulties for online bidders.

    Absentee Bids

    If you are unable to attend the auction and cannot participate by telephone, Phillips will be happy to execute written bids on your behalf. A bidding form can be found at the back of this catalogue. This service is free and confidential. Bids must be placed in the currency of the sale. Our staff will attempt to execute an absentee bid at the lowest possible price taking into account the reserve and other bidders. Always indicate a maximum bid, excluding the buyer's premium and VAT. Unlimited bids will not be accepted. Any absentee bid must be received at least 24 hours in advance of the sale. In the event of identical bids, the earliest bid received will take precedence.

    Bidding Increments

    Bidding generally opens below the low estimate and advances in increments of up to 10%, subject to the auctioneer's discretion. Absentee bids that do not conform to the increments set below may be lowered to the next bidding increment.

    UK£50 to UK£1,000 by UK£50s
    UK£1,000 to UK£2,000 by UK£100s
    UK£2,000 to UK£3,000 by UK£200s
    UK£3,000 to UK£5,000 by UK£200s, 500, 800 (e.g. UK£4,200, 4,500, 4,800)
    UK£5,000 to UK£10,000 by UK£500s
    UK£10,000 to UK£20,000 by UK£1,000s
    UK£20,000 to UK£30,000 by UK£2,000s
    UK£30,000 to UK£50,000 by UK£2,000s, 5,000, 8,000
    UK£50,000 to UK£100,000 by UK£5,000s
    UK£100,000 to UK£200,000 by UK£10,000s
    above UK£200,000 at the auctioneer’s discretion

    The auctioneer may vary the increments during the course of the auction at his or her own discretion.

    Conditions Of Sale

    The auction is governed by the Conditions of Sale and Authorship Warranty which are available on our website. All prospective bidders should read them carefully. They may be amended by saleroom addendum or auctioneer's announcement.

    Interested Parties Announcement

    In situations where a person allowed to bid on a lot has a direct or indirect interest in such lot, such as the beneficiary or executor of an estate selling the lot, a joint owner of the lot or a party providing or participating in a guarantee on the lot, Phillips will make an announcement in the saleroom that interested parties may bid on the lot.

    Consecutive And Responsive Bidding;

    If a lot is offered without reserve, unless there are already competing absentee bids, the auctioneer will generally open the bidding at 50% of the lot's low pre-sale estimate. In the absence of a bid at that level, the auctioneer will proceed backwards at his or her discretion until a bid is recognized and will then advance the bidding from that amount. Absentee bids on no reserve lots will, in the absence of a higher bid, be executed at approximately 50% of the low pre-sale estimate or at the amount of the bid if it is less than 50% of the low pre-sale estimate. If there is no bid whatsoever on a no reserve lot, the auctioneer may deem such lot unsold.

    No Reserve Lots

    Bidding generally opens below the low estimate and advances in increments of up to 10%, subject to the auctioneer's discretion. Absentee bids that do not conform to the increments set below may be lowered to the next bidding increment.

  3. C

    After The Auction


    Payment is due immediately following the auction, unless other arrangements have been agreed with Phillips in writing in advance of the sale. Interest will be charged on late payment at the rate of 12% per annum.

    Payments must be made by the invoiced party in pounds sterling and may be sent by wire transfer directly to:

    UBS Switzerland AG
    Rue des Noirettes 35
    1227 Carouge

    Account Name: Phillips Auctioneers Limited
    Account No: 0279-350733.62F
    IBAN: CH770027927935073362F

    Please reference the relevant invoice number.

    Alternatively, payment can be made:

    • For invoices of £30,000 or less by credit card. We accept American Express, Visa, MasterCard and UnionPay (UnionPay for in person transactions only).

    • It is our corporate policy not to make or accept single or multiple payments in cash in excess of £5,000 for all purchases in any calendar year.

    Title to each lot will not pass until the buyer has made full payment of the Purchase Price plus any applicable Artist Resale Royalty and all applicable taxes.

    Collection, Shipping and Storage

    What you need to know

    After the auction: Lots are transferred from Berkeley Square to our nominated offsite storage facilities. You can find details here:

    Collection and/or shipment

    Please arrange to collect your purchased lot(s) promptly after the auction. Please give us at least two working days’ notice of the date you intend to collect, so that we can prepare the necessary release paperwork. To arrange your collection please contact our London Shipping Team: Email: [email protected] / Tel: +44 207318 4010.

    Options for collection

    • Collection from our offsite storage facilities (All lots)

    • Collection from Berkeley Square (By prior arrangement only. Excludes oversized lots) If you would like to collect your lot(s) from our gallery at 30 Berkeley Square, you can do so by prior arrangement. There will be a £45 + VAT transfer charge for each lot. Requests made by 3 pm Wednesday of every week, will be available for collection from the Friday of that week during office hours (9am to 5 pm weekdays) until the following Thursday 12 noon.

    Collection checklist

    • Confirmed date agreed with our London Shipping Team (see contact details above).

    • Proof of payment

    • A valid government issued identification (e.g. passport or ID card); and

    • If an agent is collecting on your behalf, a signed authorization letter or instruction

    At collection, packed lots will be opened to allow you or your authorized representative to inspect the lot(s) before we release them for collection. If you are using shippers or agents to collect the lot(s) on your behalf, please ask them to bring appropriate packing material to re-pack and re-seal the lot(s).


    We provide complimentary storage for up to 30 days after the auction. We will send you reminders but if you do not collect your lots within the 30 day period, your contact details will be passed to our offsite storage providers. They will get in touch with you to set up an account in your name for your ongoing storage requirements.

    Any lots collected after the 30 day free storage period, will be subject to storage and release fees. These fees depend on the size and nature of your lots. For details please contact our London Shipping Team: Email: [email protected] / Tel: +44 207318 4010.

    Risk of loss or damage

    Lots will be at your risk after the 30 day free storage period. If you do not have appropriate insurance cover in place, you will need to make separate insurance arrangements. Our offsite storage providers can provide you with a quote for storage insurance and you should contact them directly to discuss your needs. You can find their details in the links above.

    Withdrawal of the UK from the European Union

    The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 and has entered a transition period lasting until 31 December 2020. During this transition period the UK will continue to be treated as if it were an EU member state and the existing rules regarding the movement of property from the UK to European Union countries will continue to apply. Accordingly, no import duties should be imposed when shipping lots bought in Phillips London auctions to EU members states during this transition period ending 31 December 2020.

    Export and Import Licenses

    Before bidding for any property, prospective bidders are advised to make independent enquiries as to whether a licence is required to export the property from the United Kingdom or to import it into another country. It is the buyer's sole responsibility to comply with all import and export laws and to obtain any necessary licences or permits. The denial of any required licence or permit or any delay in obtaining such documentation will not justify the cancellation of the sale or any delay in making full payment for the lot.

    Endangered Species

    Items made of or incorporating plant or animal material, such as coral, crocodile, ivory, whalebone, Brazilian rosewood, rhinoceros horn or tortoiseshell, irrespective of age, percentage or value, may require a licence or certificate prior to exportation and additional licences or certificates upon importation to the US or to any country within or outside the European Union (EU). Please note that the ability to obtain an export licence or certificate does not ensure the ability to obtain an import licence or certificate in another country, and vice versa. We suggest that prospective bidders check with their own government regarding wildlife import requirements prior to placing a bid. It is the buyer's sole responsibility to obtain any necessary export or import licences or certificates as well as any other required documentation. Please note that the US prohibits the importation of any item containing African elephant ivory. Asian elephant ivory may be imported in to the US only if accompanied by independent scientific analysis regarding continent of origin and confirmation the object is more than 100 years old. We have not obtained a scientific analysis on any lot prior to sale and cannot indicate whether elephant ivory in a particular lot is African or Asian elephant. Buyers purchase these lots at their own risk and will be responsible for the costs of obtaining any scientific analysis or other report required in connection with their proposed import of such property into the US.

    With regard to any item containing endangered species other than elephant ivory, an importer into the US must provide documented evidence of the species identification and age of an object in order to demonstrate that the object qualifies as an antique. This will require the buyer to obtain an independent appraisal certifying the species of endangered material on the object and certifying that the object is not less than 100 years of age. A prospective buyer planning to import an object into the US may not rely on Phillips cataloguing to establish the species of endangered material on the object or to establish the age of the object and must consult with a qualified independent appraiser prior to placing a bid on the lot. Please note that lots containing potentially regulated plant or animal material are marked as a convenience to our clients, but Phillips does not accept liability for errors or for failing to mark lots containing protected or regulated species.


    Our Privacy Policy is available at or by emailing [email protected] and sets out: (i) the types of personal data we will or may collect and process; (ii) the purposes for which we will or may process your personal data; (iii) the lawful bases we rely on when processing your personal data; (iv) your rights in respect of our processing of your personal data; and (v) various other information as required by applicable laws.

    Phillips' premises, sale, and exhibition venues are subject to CCTV video surveillance and recording for security, client service and bid monitoring purposes. Phillips' auctions will be filmed for simultaneous live broadcast on Phillips' and third-party websites and applications.

Important Notices

Identification of Business or Trade Buyers

As of January 2010, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs ("HMRC") has made it an official requirement for auction houses to hold evidence of a buyer's business status, due to the revised VAT rules regarding buyer's premium for lots with symbols for businesses outside the UK.

  • Where the buyer is a non-EU business, Phillips requires evidence of the business status by means of the company identification, Certificate of Incorporation, Articles of Association or government-issued documents showing that the company exists.

  • Where the buyer is an EU VAT registered business, Phillips requires the business's VAT registration number.
    These details can be scanned and emailed to us, or alternatively they can be faxed or mailed. If these requirements are not met, we will be unable to cancel/refund any applicable VAT.

Electrical and Mechanical Lots

All lots with electrical and/or mechanical features are sold on the basis of their decorative value only and should not be assumed to be operative. It is essential that, prior to any intended use, the electrical system is verified and approved by a qualified electrician.