If you ever been unsure about leaving an absentee bid with an auction house your concern is justified. There are two ways to leave an absentee bid: 1. Place an absentee bid directly with an auction house, or 2. Place an absentee bid with a third party online bidding platform such as Interencheres, Drouot Live, Invaluable, Live Auctioneers, The Saleroom or Bidsquare. Placing an absentee bid directly with an auction house in France is courting disaster. My experience, is that even if the live bidding realizes an auction price lower than your absentee bid the auction house will invoice you for one bid increment less than your absentee bid. For example, if you place an absentee bid for 1500 Euros for a Daum vase and the final bid is 900 Euros, the auction house will invoice you for 1400 Euros plus their commission fee. This has happened repeatedly to me. This is an unfortunate practice confirmed by my friends in France who frequently work with the auction houses. My recommendation is to not place absentee bids directly with an auction house unless you understand their absentee bid process or if you have no other options. A better choice is to place an absentee bid with a third party online bidding platform. “In most cases” the absentee bid is confidential and is not shared with the auction house. The exception that I am aware of is that an absentee bid placed on Drouot Live is shared with the auction house.
I will share a personal, most unfortunate experience with an absentee bid. I am sorry to say this actually occurred and has negatively affected my trust with certain auction houses. I placed an absentee with an auction house in France for a vase as described in the prior scenario. However, this time, I had the opportunity to watch the live auction online. The lot where I had placed the absentee bid was auctioned and sold for several hundred dollars less than my absentee bid. I was quite pleased! That is, until I received the “facture” or “bordereau” (invoice) from the auction house. The invoice was 100 Euros less than the absentee bid I placed! I contacted the auction house to address the issue, but, did not receive a response. Without any other recourse I paid the invoice. After that experience I no longer submit absentee bids if the bid amount is shared with the auction house.