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Buying at Forum

Choosing a Bidding Method

We offer a number of different ways in which you can bid at auction. All are straightforward and we will assist you in answering any question you might have. We recommend that you open your account with us well in advance of the first sale in which you intend to bid.


Pre auction viewing is available in person at our showrooms, online with our fully illustrated catalogue listings, or via video viewing appointment. We encourage all clients to satisfy themselves to the condition of a Lot prior to bidding. Website images can be enlarged for closer inspection, and we can also provide condition reports for almost all items.


The buyer pays the Hammer Price, Buyer’s Premium (+ VAT) and any other applicable fees for every Lot won in the auction. Bound books and unframed maps are zero-rated and do not attract VAT on the Buyer's Premium. 

Examples of other applicable fees could include:
  • Artist's re-sale royalty for artworks by living and recently deceased artist
  • 20% VAT on the hammer price for items sold outside of the auctioneer's margin scheme
  • 5% Import VAT on the hammer price for items sold whilst subject to tempororary importation
  • Duty and VAT on hammer and premium (wine and spirits auctions)

Each item will have the fees clearly listed within the online auction catalogue, as well as bid calculator so you can see what you will pay before you buy. More details of applicable fees are shown below.

Post Auction

We will email you a copy of your invoice shortly after the auction, and ask you to settle this in full within 3 days. You may collect your purchased Lots from our premises at 4 Ingate Place, London SW8 3NS, on any weekday between 9:30am and 5:00pm. We encourage you to make an appointment in advance to avoid any delay on preparing your items for collection.

We can help you arrange packing and shipping of your purchased Lots or you can use your own carrier. We will provide shipping quotes as soon as possible for all purchased items, but during busier times there may be a small delay. Please note that we will only release Lots to you upon receipt of your payment in cleared funds and that it can take up to one week for us to receive confirmation from our bank for the clearance of cheque payments.

Register to bid

All of our sales are available to view on our website via the Auction Calendar. Prior to bidding you will be required to create an account with us. This will only need to be done once, and the easiest way to do so is over our website. You will be asked to provide copies of photographic ID and another proof of address evidencing your full name, address and contact details including telephone and email.
Have questions about registering?
Contact us

Live Online Bidding

With a live video feed from the auction room, Forum’s own bidding platform allows you to watch, listen and bid from anywhere in the world. Live online bidding with video and audio streaming is available at no extra cost for all of our auctions.

Our auctions are also listed on third party online aggregator platforms: the-saleroom.com, invaluable.com, liveauctioneers.com and others. Please note there is a 5% + VAT surcharge for bidding via these platforms.

If you already have a Forum Auctions account but don't know your password, please click on  and follow the Reset Password instructions. If you don't have a Forum Auctions account, please Create an Account. If you are experiencing any difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Please also note that buyers must adhere to our Terms of Sale when placing a bid and must satisfy themselves with the condition of the Lots that they are intending to bid on.

Our auctions are also listed with third party online aggregator platforms: the-saleroom.com, invaluable.com, liveauctioneers.com and others. Please note that these platforms charge an additional 5% + VAT fee on winning bids.


Timed Online Auctions

A timed online-only auction is automated and takes place exclusively on Forum’s website with no auctioneer present. The starting price on all Lots is the minimum price a lot can be sold at.  For Lots offered without reserve bidding will commence at £5.  

When a maximum bid is entered a confirmation email is sent acknowledging the bid, the level at which it has been accepted and whether it is a winning bid at the time of submission. Whenever a maximum bid is exceeded the bidder will be notified by email inviting further bids, except in the last 60 seconds of closing when it is not possible to send outbid emails.

In Person

Once you have registered with our reception desk, you will be given your bidding paddle. You can then take your seat and start bidding on the Lots which interest you. If you are a successful buyer, the auctioneer will ask you to state your paddle number. You will then be able to pay for and collect your item.

Absentee or Commission Bid

You may leave absentee bids through your account on our website by clicking on the Bid Now button associated with every available Lot. You will have the choice of either submitting your bid immediately or saving it within your account dashboard for later submission. You may leave absentee bids online up until the Lot comes up for sale.

Alternatively you may leave written absentee bids using the form in the back of every catalogue pr obtained from the saleroom. It would be preferable for you to provide us with any written bids 24 hours before the sale to be assured that we will be able to bid on the item for you.

Your absentee bids will be known only to the auctioneer, who will bid on your behalf up to the maximum bid you have submitted. You are assured that the auctioneer will commence bidding on your behalf at the lowest price possible with reference only to other competing bidders or the vendor's reserve price (the minimum price at which a Lot can be sold).

In the instance where we receive two absentee bids at the same amount, we will always execute them in the order they are received by us.

Telephone Bid

If you would like to bid by telephone, we will call you from the live saleroom and bid on your instructions. You should register your phone bidding requests well in advance of the sale to ensure we are able to accommodate your request. When accepting a phone bidding request we advise that you also leave a covering absentee bid in the event that we are unable to contact you at the time the Lot comes up for sale.

Our standard charges

Buyer's Premium

Buyer's premium (plus VAT at the current rate of 20%) will be charged on all items at the following rates:

26% of the hammer price on the first £20,000
25% of the hammer price between £20,001 - £500,000
20% of the hammer price between £500,001- £1,000,000 
12.5% of the hammer price above £1,000,001

Some items, for example bound books and unframed maps, are zero VAT rated therefore the premium will not attract VAT.

For a more detailed guide, please click here.


VAT Symbols used in the catalogue

Buyer's Premium including VAT will be charged on all Lots, with the following VAT treatment on hammer prices:

[VAT] means VAT (currently 20%) will be added to the hammer price. This can ordinarily be reclaimed if you are VAT registered or the item is exported outside the EU.

[IMPORT 5%] or [IMPORT 20%] means a rate of Import VAT on the Hammer Price of either 5% or 20% is payable. This indicates that a Lot has been imported from outside the UK. This can ordinarily be reclaimed as input tax if you are VAT registered or refunded when the item is exported outside the UK.


Artist's Resale Right 

Also referred to as Droit de Suite, works by certain artists sold in the EU or Australia are subject to royalty fees accruing to the artist or their estate. The fees are levied on a sliding scale relative to hammer price and capped at £12,500 per item. We will collect these fees from you on behalf of the artist and add the equivalent amount to your invoice. These charges do not attract VAT.

Lots that may be subject to ARR are marked in the catalogue with ARR or δ and the additional charges are currently:

4% of the hammer price up to £50,000
3% of the hammer price from £50,001 to £200,000
1% of the hammer price from £200,001 to £350,000
0.5% of the hammer price from £350,001 to £500,000
0.25% of the hammer price above £500,000

Export Licences

Some Lots may require an Export Licence on the grounds of exceeding a specific age and/or monetary value threshold as set by the Export Licensing Unit. We are happy to offer the submission of necessary applications on behalf of our buyers but we will charge £30 for this service only to cover the costs of our time. A list of goods that require an Export Licence can be found here.


Can I have my purchases shipped to me?
Following an auction, we will automatically obtain shipping quotes for all buyers. For items that are simple to ship, we offer an in-house shipping service with DHL as the carrier and shipping payments are made to Forum Auctions Ltd.

For any larger or fragile items, we work with Alban Shipping, Flight Logistics, RF Shipping or Mailboxes Clapham to provide quotes and, upon acceptance of the quote, we will put you in touch directly with the shipper for shipping payments.
You may also use your own shipper. Please email us to let us have their name in advance.

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