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State of the Live Auction Part I


Canceled! When is the next live auction?

Will all live auctions survive intact?

Winners will rewire for CD19


In our special RM Sotheby’s Palm Beach 2020 Online live auction recap we spoke to the fact that, ‘Online may be where live auctions have to go for some time. Will there be a Pebble Beach Concours or Monterey live auctions? Not sure.’

Last Thursday two things occurred. As most are aware Pebble Beach concours was canceled. Concurrently, Germany’s Angela Merkel declared that the battle against the coronavirus was in its early stages.

With Pebble Beach shut down the traditional Monterey live auctions were certain to follow. RM, Gooding, Bonhams and all the rest folded their hands. And if there is already to be no Oktoberfest in Germany – and yes, for those that don’t know sadly it’s cancelled already – then Techno Classica being pushed to June from March will certainly not be nearly enough and the 53nd Essen Motor Show in November is also probably a no go.

If you don’t hold a live auction there is much less expense. But how long can live auction houses can continue to support their staffs etc. with no action? How do they revive from total shut down? Smaller outfits without big name auction house backing, and in this I would include Gooding, will either not survive totally intact or will hibernate so deeply that they emerge ready for Spring.

Gooding has not said much about going online. RM has seized upon the online auction as a souped up traditional timed event. It is Bonhams who appears as if they look to go to the next level along the lines of what we have promoted in the past. A true ‘event’ like online production.

Bonhams MPH promises for its Motor Cars and Motorcycles on 30 May and again on 25 July, ‘ … “closed auctions” with a live auctioneer; enhanced video content of each lot; viewing by appointment or online viewing only. Clients will be able to submit Telephone, Absentee or Online bids via our Online bidding platform, to ensure bidders are able to engage fully with the buying experience.’ We’ll see what they actually do and if it lives up to what it appears it might be.

We cannot know if there will be a ‘second’ wave of CD19 in the fall of 2020 that extends our need (or want) for social distancing, but if this is the case then Scottdale 2021 is probably too soon and a fair prediction would be that Amelia Island in March 2021 may be the reawakening.


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