5 Tips for Success at a Benefit Art Auction

Lauren Brunk of Brunk Auctions gives us the inside scoop on how to navigate a benefit auction, help a worthy cause, and have fun!  We’re sold.   

  1. Choosing the right piece for you. The most important thing someone should consider is their personal reaction to the artwork: does it make them feel something? The “why” of a purchase can be so personal and it may be hard to put a finger on it immediately. It may be visually pleasing, it may be a work that makes you think, it may be something that brings up positive associations, it may be a recognizable artist that you will enjoy sharing with guests, or it may be your absolute favorite shade of green that matches the comfortable chair in the living room.
  2.  Do your homework. Spending time looking at a work of art and researching the artist’s work will definitely put you in firm ground when you get ready to raise your paddle. There are times when an artist donates work that would sell for thousands of dollars in a retail setting. If you know that going in, it will make you feel more comfortable with whatever bidding level you set for yourself. With that said, be prepared to react differently to a work of art when you see it in person. It will certainly be bigger or smaller than you thought—more dynamic, less colorful, or more playful. So be prepared to let it hit you in a new way.
  3. Etiquette, shmetiquette. There is certainly auction etiquette in the saleroom during a scheduled auction for estates and consignors. However, at a benefit auction we like to say “the gloves are off.”  There are very few rules except “do what you can to raise money for a worthy cause.”  So go ahead and stand up, yell out your bid, heckle your competition! Convince your neighbor that they should buy the other one, not the one you want. It’s all fair
  4. Fly that paddle high. If you are in a bidding war just look ahead and hold your paddle up. Show no fear. If you really want something, jump in and go for it. We hear many more sad tales of the one that got away: “I wish I had kept on bidding” or “I don’t know why I didn’t just buy that!” than we hear about any “buyer’s remorse.”
  5. Do your “under bidding.” Remember that the whole point of the benefit auction is to raise money. Being one of the bidders that does not actually buy the work is an important roll and it is called “under bidder.” Sometimes you can jump in and help to keep the bidding moving higher by being one of the under bidders. Of course the bidding might stop on you, but if it does, you end up with a treasure and the organization has moved closer to their goal. It is a double win.

Lauren and Andrew Brunk along with Andrew’s father, Bob, serve as principals of the world-renowned Brunk Auctions auction gallery here in Asheville. We are thrilled to have Andrew serve as auctioneer once again for this year’s Art Affair, held March 10 at the Event Center at Highland Brewing. Get in on the bidding fun for a great cause and buy your tickets now.

Written by Lindsey Grossman