[Top 3 Japanese Art Auction Companies] You can enjoy auctions without bidding!

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Commentary on the art auction

Hello everyone. This is GOSUKE, the manager of MONOLiTH, a contemporary art online shopping site.

Do you know about art auctions that you often hear about in the news these days?

Due to the effects of asset inflation due to Japan's monetary easing, the successful bids at art auctions continue to rise steadily. In addition to several million yen, recently we often see works that exceed 100 million yen.

Art auctions may seem like something only the rich can do, but in reality, people other than the bidders can also enjoy the art auction.

In this article, we will introduce what an art auction is, how to enjoy an art auction, and Japanese art auction companies.

What is Art Auction?

First of all, what is an art auction?

State of art auction
State of art auction

As the name suggests, it is an auction format in which ordinary people and corporations compete for artworks that they have purchased once.

It should be noted that, like an auction, purchasing a work that has already been purchased by someone else is called the secondary market, and conversely, purchasing directly from an artist or gallery is called the primary market. It's a word you often hear in the art industry, so it's a must-check.

Many people who buy works at art auctions aim to own art as an asset, and the winning bid is several hundred thousand yen to several million yen, and depending on the work, it can be worth tens of millions of yen. .
Although the number is still small in Japan, there are times when a successful bid is for several hundred million yen, and overseas it is common to exceed 100 million yen.

In addition, as I touched upon briefly at the beginning, in recent years, due to the impact of asset inflation due to monetary easing, successful bid prices have been rising year by year.
It is also proof that more and more people see art as an asset.

Please refer to this article for the property of art.

Commentary on art investment

[Art investment] Is asset management profitable with art? Introducing the recommended method!

Explains how to purchase and select works in art investment/asset management. As an actual example, I will introduce the price transition at the art auction of Backside works.

As explained in the article above, if you understand the market price of the work, it is possible to bid on the work at a bargain price.

How art auctions work

Next, I will explain how the art auction works.
You can understand the art auction if you hold down the following four points.

Estimated price (assumed successful bid price)
Bid method
benefit to the artist

I will explain each.

Estimated price (assumed successful bid price)

The auction company sets an estimated price (assumed successful bid price) for each exhibited work.

About Estimated Prices in Art Auctions
SBI Art Auction

The price calculated based on the past auction results of our company and other companies will be used as a budget consideration for bidding.

However, it is also true that there are many works that are sold well above the estimated price recently.
The above work was also sold for 6 million yen against the estimated price of 1.2 to 1.8 million yen.

Bid method

There are 4 ways to bid.
*Bid is also called Bid in English.

1. Go to the site and raise the paddle (tag) to bid
2.Telephone bidding
3. Pre-bid in writing
4. Bid from the Internet

It depends on the auction venue, but I think it's good to go to the site because you can feel the most real atmosphere.

The easiest way is to bid from No. 4 Internet. If you register, anyone can proceed with bidding with one click.
Therefore, self-control and calm judgment are required so as not to click on momentum and bid for a high price.

By the way, when I won a work at an auction in the past, it was a bid from the Internet.


The commission is usually 15% for both the seller and the buyer.

Therefore, if you win a bid for 1 million yen, the buyer will pay 1,150,000 yen to the auction company. The seller will receive 850,000 yen, which is 15% off the 1,000,000 yen.

benefit to the artist

Then, will part of the winning bid go to the artist who created the work that was sold at the art auction?

Unfortunately the answer is no.
The current situation is that no matter how high the winning bid is, the artist does not receive a single yen.

However, as will be described later, there are recently auction services that return a portion of the successful bid price to the artist.

Enjoy art auctions without bidding

I explained how the art auction works and how to participate, but you can enjoy the art auction without bidding.

Here are three things to enjoy.

live streaming

I will introduce each of them.


If you have registered with the Art Auction Service (registration is free), you will receive a catalog containing the works to be exhibited about one month before each auction.

art auction catalog

art auction catalog
art auction catalog

It's pretty carefully crafted, and it's simply interesting and exciting to read. To be honest, this is free!? The quality is surprisingly high.

By the way, this catalog is sold on Mercari for 2,000 yen.


Preview, translated into Japanese, is a preview. Personally, I think this is the most fun.

In the preview, the works that will actually be exhibited will be displayed together.

art auction preview

art auction preview

Works by famous artists from Japan and overseas are exhibited, and you can see many famous works such as Banksy, kaws, Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, kyne, etc. It's a gorgeous display that you rarely see in museums.

Banksy in preview of art auction

Yayoi Kusama in Art Auction Preview

art auction preview

In addition, since the above-mentioned estimated price is also listed, you can see the works while seeing how much each work is worth, so it is a different kind of fun than going to an art museum.

Art auction preview caption

What's more, it's free! You can just drop by and see it without pre-registration.

I would like you to go to the preview once.

live streaming

The state of the auction on the day of the auction is often live-streamed on YouTube, etc., and the state of the venue can be seen from anywhere.

Live streaming of art auctions
State of the auction

The powerful handling of the auctioneer (the person who conducts the auction), how the price of the work actually rises, and the hammer being struck at the time of the bidding are very realistic, so it is worth seeing.

3 Recommended Domestic Art Auction Companies

Now, let's take a look at the major art auction companies in Japan.

SBI Art Auction

SBI Art Auction Logo
SBI Art Auction

This is the largest auction company in Japan.

SBI is characterized by its high successful bid rate and rising prices.

I think the high name recognition is a big factor, but I think SBI Art Auction is a good place to exhibit.

The preview is also very gorgeous, and it is held in Daikanyama every time.

SBI Art Auction Preview

Click here for SBI Art Auction

Shinwa Auction

Shinwa Auction logo
Shinwa Auction

This is a well-established auction company.

We mainly deal with old items such as antiques and Western paintings, but from 2021 we have also started handling contemporary art works.

Shinwa Auction Preview

Shinwa Auction Preview

Compared to the SBI Art Auction, the price of the works is more stable, and the successful bid rate is often around 90%.

By the way, I made a successful bid at this auction.

We are also trying new things such as NFT art auctions, and since it is a long-established and highly reliable auction company, I think that the price and successful bid rate will increase further in the future.

Click here for Shinwa Auction



An up-and-coming auction company that started in 2021. As of July 2022, we have held two auctions so far.



As a feature of this, it is a mechanism to return part of the profit of the auction to the artist.

It is an auction company that is active mainly in Shibuya and Harajuku, and is looking forward to future activities.

Click here for NEW AUCTION

Some other auction companies

We have introduced major domestic auctions, but there are several other auction companies such as Mainichi Auction and Mallet Art Auction.

In addition, since the name recognition differs depending on the company, the number of bidders who participate changes, and there are many cases where the winning price differs even for the same work. From that point, it is also true that it is possible to aim for a cheap bid.

There is also a primary option for buying art

So far, I have explained about art auctions, but when you buy a work at an art auction, you need a lot of capital. It is also true that there is also an aspect of the investor's money game.

Also, if you don't understand the market view, it may cost 15% as a commission, and it is undeniable that you may end up with a high price.

For this reason, my personal opinion is that art auctions are for intermediate and advanced buyers when it comes to art buying.

For those who simply want to buy art, we recommend purchasing from a gallery as a primary purchase.

Our site MONOLiTH is also located in the primary market, where we select and sell works by artists who are producing wonderful works.

Look at the works and artist information on the site, and if there is something that you feel in your heart, I hope you will pick up the work.

Click here for the art mail order site MONOLiTH

At the end

So far, I have explained what an art auction is, recommended ways to enjoy it, and explanations about auction companies.

The appeal of art auctions is that you can enjoy previews and live streaming without bidding, so please come and visit!

Please see this article for the basic knowledge of art purchases, including auctions.

Basic knowledge of art purchase

Introducing the basic knowledge you need to know when purchasing contemporary art in order to select works that will not fail. A must-see for those who want to buy art!

Thank you for reading this far.
See you soon!

MONOLiTH Operation Manager
Gosuke Onoda