As members of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers (SOFAA) we were pleased to hear that after their discussions, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed that art galleries and antiques shops would be categorised as non-essential retail businesses. This has meant that auction houses will be allowed to open their doors to the public from Monday 15 June and visits to clients in their homes will be allowed from Monday 1 June, providing appropriate social distancing can be maintained.
During lockdown Dreweatts has been a market leader in developing a suite of virtual services so that clients can have access to our specialists remotely. We introduced our Virtual Valuation Service and Online Valuation Forms for clients requiring valuation advice.
These services will continue to be available for those who prefer to utilise our services remotely, but where social distancing measures are in place, our specialists are now able to visit clients and carry out valuations in person. Dreweatts has in place protocols to ensure that this can be done safely for both staff and clients.
This development will come as a relief for clients needing to access advice on collections and estates. As well as private clients putting valuations on hold, the number of probate applications has also fallen by half since lockdown began because of the difficulty in collating all the information from stored files and valuations. HMRC has been aware of this and has instigated some measures in recognition of these difficulties, but the issue has remained.
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Dreweatts has a busy schedule of online sales and along with our remote valuation services, we have also developed our virtual viewing services, Remote Viewing and Dreweatts 360 Virtual Auction Tours, which allows buyers to view from the comfort of their own home.
The market has remained robust during the current climate with online sales performing well. Dreweatts' recent Fine Furniture, Sculpture, Carpets and Ceramics auction on 19 May was held as an online auction with auctioneer. We were still able to offer commission bids, telephone bids, as well as online bidding, with 593 bidders from 30 countries taking part. The auction was very successful with the total of £672,425 (including Buyers Premium) being 20-25% above the pre-sale estimate and with 57% of that selling online.
Ben Brown, Head of Dreweatts' Furniture Department commented 'We had a significant amount of interest in the sale overall and achieved a good number of excellent results throughout. During this lockdown period we really felt that the methods we introduced of assisting potential buyers with the remote viewing of Lots prior to auction via video calls, the Dreweatts 360 virtual auction tour on our website, alongside the usual well illustrated listing really worked in favour of the prices achieved.'
For all sales however, the option to view first-hand is a welcome development and in Donnington Priory we are blessed with large well-presented salerooms that allows us to manage viewings safely and in line with social distancing regulations. For those not able to view first hand Dreweatts will continue to offer our Remote Viewing service, as well as Dreweatts 360 Virtual Auction Tours for a selection of our auctions.
We will continue with our programme of online sales. View Upcoming Auctions
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