How to Purchase Artwork Through Cowley Abbott Auctions

Whether through our semi-annual live or monthly online auctions, Cowley Abbott provides industry-leading traditional client service and proprietary technology to ensure a process of ease, enjoyment and security for bidders.

Semi-Annual Live Auctions - Overview

The Cowley Abbott semi-annual Live Auctions of Important Canadian Art are held at Toronto’s Gardiner Museum during the evening, typically in late May and November.

Clients can attend previewing of the artwork included in the auction at the Cowley Abbott gallery during the three or four weeks that lead to the auction. Clients can also review images and details of the artwork on offer through our website and in the printed auction catalogues.

Live auctions provide an opportunity for clients to bid in person (receiving a paddle to bid in the auction room during the sale), by telephone (receiving a phone call from a representative of Cowley Abbott to allow real-time bidding during the auction) or by absentee bid (the client providing their maximum bid to have our team bid on their behalf to that maximum during the auction). Registration for live, telephone and absentee bidding can be completed in the gallery, at the auction venue, through a Collector Profile on our website or by telephone/e-mail (please note that registration is closed as we approach the auction evening and that registration for absentee and telephone bidding is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis).

Create a Collector Profile.

A Buyer’s Premium of 18% is applicable on all purchases completed through Cowley Abbott auctions. The 18% is added to the hammer price. All sales are subject to applicable sales tax, depending on delivery or pick up location of an item, and/or the tax status of the buyer.

Review our Full Terms & Conditions of Sale.

Monthly Online Auctions - Overview

  1. Online auctions are active for a determined period of time.

    Cowley Abbott auctions are scheduled with a start date and time, as well as an end date and time. Full cataloguing and valuation details, as well as images of each lot are available up to seven business days prior to the commencement of an auction.

  2. Buyer’s Premium and Sales Tax.

    A Buyer’s Premium of 18% is applicable on all purchases completed through Cowley Abbott auctions. The 18% is added to the hammer price. All sales are subject to applicable sales tax, depending on delivery or pick up location of an item, and/or the tax status of the buyer.

  3. Sales are secured by means of a 10% deposit at time of purchase.

    Once a lot is sold, a 10% deposit based on the hammer price (up to a maximum of $10,000) is charged to the provided credit card number in order to secure the purchase.

  4. Conditions of Sale.

    While the information here provides general details regarding participation in Cowley Abbott auctions, please refer to the full conditions of sale for detailed information regarding the purchasing terms with out firm.

Monthly Online Auctions - How to bid on a lot

  1. Submit a bid.

    Registered bidders are provided the option to place a bid by clicking on the "Bid Now" button found on the listing page for each lot. Bids progress under predefined auction increments. Click here to register.

  2. Set a maximum bid.

    A bidder may also set a maximum bid. When this occurs, our system will automatically bid on your behalf ("Auto-bid") until your defined maximum amount is reached. Please note: Maximum bids can only be set at the next bid increment from the current bidding level and then every second bid increment from that point, accounting for challenge bids from other participants in the auction. As well, if you wish to increase your maximum bid, the system will only allow increases set at every second bid increment from your current maximum bid level.

  3. Bidding Increments.

    Bidding begins at the reserve price and advances at the following increments:

    Bidding RangeIncrement
    $100 - $500$25.00
    $500 - $1,000$50.00
    $1,000 - $5,000$200.00
    $5,000 - $10,000$500.00
    $10,000 - $20,000$1,000.00
    $20,000 - $50,000$2,000.00
    $50,000 - $100,000$5,000.00
    $100,000+$10,000.00
  4. Bid Closing / Bid Extensions.

    If a bid is received in the final four minutes leading to the close of bidding on a lot, the bidding close will then reset to a four-minute period. If a bid is received within that four minutes, the bidding will again reset to a four-minute bidding period. This process will continue until there is no bidding activity with an extended four-minute period, closing that particular lot and awarding it to the current highest bidder.

Benefits for the Collector

Purchase artwork through carefully-curated semi-annual Live Auctions of Important Canadian Art and monthly, themed Online Auctions, guided by the advice of our art specialists. 
Our firm features the industry’s lowest Buyer’s Premium, as well as a combination of traditional client service and industry-leading technology to provide a collector experience that focuses upon enjoyment, ease-of-use and transparency.

Learn More About Bidding & Buying With Us.

Benefits for the Consignor

Sell artwork with the benefit of boutique, personalized service with national reach through semi-annual Live Auctions of Important Canadian Art & monthly, themed Online Auctions which target and cater to prominent and emerging collectors nationally and outside of our borders. 
Artwork featured in our auctions are subject to standard all-inclusive selling commissions without additional services fees that are usually encountered within the Canadian auction industry.

Learn More About Selling With Us.

Valuation Submission

If you are interested in offering artwork by one of the artists listed in our directory (or other possible artists), please submit details of your artwork or Contact Us for further assistance.
Submit Artwork For Consignment