The fastest growing market sector in recent years is undoubtedly Private Sales.  We only have to look at recent moves by Christies and Sotheby’s to further expand their private sale showrooms internationally as well as Sotheby’s acquisition earlier this year of art advisory firm Art Agency, Partners to see that the big guys are investing heavily in this area.

But the discreet nature of these transactions mean that they are usually conducted ‘behind closed doors’ and the results kept under wraps, unlike the fanfare that auction results often receive.  

For me, Private Sales are the bread and butter of my business and I am pleased to see their increasing popularity as it gives collectors more options to consider when selling their artworks. 

There are many reasons why Private Sale might be the best option for you:

  • The artwork is not exposed to the open market
  • It is a discreet and confidential transaction where the result is not made public
  • There is better opportunity to target a specific collector or institution (and it is worth noting that most institutions prefer acquiring works of art in this manner rather than through auction)
  • The seller is not restricted by an auction date as the work can be sold as soon as a buyer can be found – a bonus when the sale is time-sensitive.

I have personally noticed a strong inclination from buyers and sellers to shift towards private treaty sale (against offering at auction). Interestingly for the seller, the reduced commission was not necessarily the main motivation for this, nor was it the risk of the work selling below market value (which often happens when artworks are given low estimates to attract bidders at auction). The most important factor in seller's minds was not wanting to expose their work to the open market - as they know that if a work goes unsold at auction, it has very little chance selling again within 5 or more years.

Similarly, buyers are now coming to me prepared to pay a premium for works that have not been exposed to the open market through auction. As buyers are now seeing great potential for significant growth and resale, for certain artists and objects, acquisition through private sale removes any listed auction result associated with sale. Auction results are heavily relied upon by industry experts to establish market values of works of art, and if a work has no traceable auction history, it cannot be held back by this history. In the past several months, I have established several new record prices for major works, simply because they were completely fresh to the market, unencumbered by previous results, and having the buyers that are astutely aware of the added value that this lack of past exposure can bring - and they are prepared to pay for it.

If you would like to discuss this method of sale in more detail, please contact me for complimentary and confidential advice.

Here is a selection of my recent private sales:

circa 1910-1996

Untitled, 1990

synthetic polymer paint on canvas
120 x 150 cm




Love Story, 1972

synthetic polymer paint on composition board
37 x 45 cm


A collection of 14 Tiwi figures

Bathurst or Melville Islands

carved hardwood and natural earth pigments
various sizes  


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An Important Private Collection of Shields
nineteenth century and earlier


carved wood and natural earth pigments
various sizes