The New York State of Mind

By Mike Fredericks, Department Head

Every once in a while, when talking with a potential consignor with a great piece, I hear those dreaded words “…this piece should probably be sold in New York.” This is the ‘Old-School ‘ notion that a rare or valuable piece will automatically bring more money if sold at one of the New York auction houses. While name recognition carries a certain mystique, the fact is that wherever the piece sells, the seller wants the greatest financial return from the auction process, and New York may not be the place to get that. What do I mean? Let’s take a $50,000 item and look at the potential from both the Buyer and Seller sides.

On the Seller’s side, a $50,000 item at James D. Julia’s is going to qualify for a 0% sellers commission, and a 1% Insurance charge. No questions, no haggling. There will be no photography fee, no cataloging fee, no handling fee, and in most cases, we pick the items up in our truck with our employees at no additional charge. If the item sells at $50,000 the seller receives $49,500.

That same item sold in New York City will most likely be at least 10% commission (-$5000), there will be photography and cataloging fees (-$500+/-), and there is a good chance you may have to ship the item to them or pay their transportation fees(-$300+/-). The net result is a check for $44,500 minus your cost of shipping. Even if the item sold 10% higher in New York, the seller would STILL net more money in their pocket at Julia’s, because our commission rates are more competitive and we have no additional fees! I don’t know too many people that wouldn’t want to have the additional $5000 in their own pocket, rather than the auction house’s pocket.

On the Buyer’s side, nearly all auction companies charge a Buyer’s Premium. Most of the New York houses average 23%, while James D. Julia charges 18.5%. This means that a bidder at Julia’s can actually bid higher and pay less total money. On that same $50,000 hammer price, the New York buyer will pay $61,500, while at Julia’s they will pay $59,250, again allowing the customer to keep more of their money.

Think it’s our imagination? Not long ago, we had a call from a gentleman who offered the beautiful Tiffany Studios Nasturtium Chandelier seen above at a New York house for $70,000-$90,000. The piece was on the cover of their catalog but did not sell. Net return to the seller was $0.00. We took that same piece for consignment six month later and sold the piece for $91,125. Great items with conservative and realistic estimates bring great results, and Julia’s is the venue that keeps the greatest net return in the customer’s pocket. Contact us today to be included in our upcoming Fall 2015 sale.