The full story.
The Auction Collective wants to make it easier to buy art, but no less theatrical.- Layli Foroudi, Sifted, 'Removing (some of) the pomp and ceremony around the art world', 2019
The Auction Collective is an auction services platform that has helped hundreds of artists, arts organisations and charities run professional, enjoyable auctions.
The idea came in 2017 from former Christie's auctioneer and Contemporary Art Specialist Tom Best. Tom spent six years at Christie’s London and two years in humanitarian aid before uniting these twin passions for art and social good in The Auction Collective.
Combining suite of innovative in-person and online auction technology with a wealth of expertise, The Auction Collective make the auction process a simple, effective and enjoyable experience from start to finish.
The Auction Collective provides support in:
- Auction planning
- Artwork gathering
- Provision of auctioneers
- Auction promotion & marketing
- Anti-money laundering and due diligence checks
- Buyers' monthly payments
- Payment processing
- Post-auction shipping logistics
- Timed Auctions, Live Auctions, Live Streamed Auctions, Print Auctions and Buy Now Exhibitions
Can buying a work of art at auction really be as easy as purchasing a train ticket or a book on Amazon?
Yes, says the young team behind The Auction Collective, a UK-based pop-up auction house aimed at the primary market, which has developed bidding technology that is designed to simplify the daunting process of buying at auction for the millennial buyer.- George Nelson, The Art Newspaper, Art Market, 2018
The Auction Collective was created to provide a fresh approach to the art and auction market, to take the best of Britain's auction tradition and bring it up to date - more streamlined, more transparent, more affordable and more accessible.
In doing so, we were able to open up the auction model and its advantages to a new community of artists and art lovers.
Working with the art world's rising stars, we curated auctions of artwork fresh from the studios of emerging and independent artists that previously had no access to auctions.
For the very first auctions, a group of artists, art lovers and their family and friends, would gather in a room in Shoreditch to see a one-day exhibition and bid for artwork.
The auctions were fun, informal and welcoming. It was a breath of fresh air for the art market and people wanted more.
For the first auctions, all we had were an Instagram account, a gavel and a credit-card reader.- Tom Best, Founder, The Auction Collective
Within two years our little group of family and friends had grown to an international network of contemporary artists, art collectors and first-time buyers.
Our pop-up 'table top auctions' had transformed to tightly curated exhibitions attracting thousands of art lovers and partnering with some of the leading names on contemporary art.
There’s no doubt this business model is gaining traction: despite employing just a team of three, The Auction Collective attracts buyers from as far afield as Australia, Dubai, Singapore and the US.
And the business is even collaborating with art industry giants: in December 2018, the team were thrilled to partner with the Saatchi Gallery for an exhibition and auction called Abstract: Reality; they have also been asked to speak at the Global Auction House Summit, sitting alongside Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.- Zoë Apostolides, The Telegraph, 'How The Auction Collective is modernising art for millennial buyers', 2018
People & Art First – Tech to Support
Our ‘people and art first’ approach helped us develop and introduce the right technology to support our artists and buyers. Including the world’s first downloadable bidding paddle in 2018 and the first use of VR exhibition tours in early 2019.
Buyer registration, bidding and payment are all done through phones – even the paddle is downloaded to a device.- Melanie Gerlis, Financial Times, The Art Market - Collecting, 2018
The Auction Collective is the new auction initiative that puts its buyers’ 21-century needs at the forefront of its bidding process.
Their mission is to make it easy and enjoyable for anyone to own great art – something they’ve managed to achieve seamlessly in their two years of existence.- Barnebys, 'The Bidding Reform', 2020
The Pandemic Years
By 2020, we had a two-year plan to develop live-stream and online-only auctions to further enhance the auction experience for our international community.
And then Covid-19 happened. Our two-year plan quickly became a two-week plan.
By working through the night, and with a relentless determination to support artists through the pandemic, we built and launched our unique live-stream and timed auctions.
It was a huge success and by the end of 2020 we had run 13 live-stream auctions, 5 timed auctions and seen an exponential growth of our community.
But with COVID-19 putting paid to conventional auctions, in less than a week, founder and leading art expert and auctioneer Tom Best has transformed the company and taken his auctions completely online, with live streaming options for real time bidding.- Alison Coleman, Forbes, 'Four startups that pivoted their way out of the COVID crisis', 2020
To help buyers during the financial pressures of the pandemic, we also launched a monthly payment scheme.
In 2020 we became the first and only auction member of the Arts Council funded Own Art scheme, where buyers are able to spread the cost of an artwork over 10-24 months completely interest free. Learn more.
In response to an increased demand from our collectors for editioned artworks, in 2020 we launched our Print Auctions - a new auction model that gives artists creating works in editions (printmakers, photographers, and sculptors) the opportunity to benefit from the auction model.
Curated together in Collections, all works in an edition are listed online for sale. All are available to 'buy now' except the last which, due to its rarity, is put up for auction once all the others have sold. See here.
By the end of 2020 two things had happened:
- We were flooded with requests from people to help host auctions. Artists, charities, brands and arts organisations were all looking for support.
- We had also witnessed a change in the art market landscape.
The Covid-19 lockdowns had forced the art market online. With many of our artists creating online shops and making sales through social media, collectors and first-time buyers were now able to connect directly to artists and buy artwork. It was an incredibly exciting moment but it did make us question our added value to the artists.
And so we pivoted.
In 2021, we shifted from curating in-house auctions to opening up the platform to artists, art groups, charities and galleries to run their own auctions.
We now use our auction expertise, software and art collecting community to support others with their auction projects.
What’s next …
We are not done yet. We will always work hard to bring the best auction experience and add the most value to our auction community.
Right now, we working on a very exciting project that will open up the auction advantage to even more people.