London Auction Houses Tour: Decoding the Art Market

Get to grips with London’s historic and contemporary role in art collecting
From US$524 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • White Cube Gallery
  • Bonhams
  • Christie's
  • Royal Academy of Arts
  • Fine Art Society
Photos & Highlights
  • Come face-to-face with London's illustrious art market and its shaping of today's art collection industry
  • Led by an auction house insider
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Tour Description
For centuries, London has been the center of the art market. Names like Christie's, Sotheby’s, and Bonhams are synonymous with the luxury art trade today, but where does this tradition come from? On this walk, we'll learn about the history of the auction houses, how art dealers function, and how the two interrelate.

Our walk will start in Mayfair, at the heart of this multi-billion-dollar global business. Our course through the area will depend very much on current exhibitions and the interests of the group and will include major auction houses as well as smaller galleries. 
Meet Your Expert
Typically, we begin this art tour of London with a basic background on the British passion for collecting and London's historical and contemporary role in the luxury market. Next, we'll introduce the history of Phillips and Bonhams, the auctioneers, and visit some of Bonhams salesrooms to consider the current exhibition. Here, we may discuss how prices are determined and the the role of the auctioneer in the success of a sale.

 Our discussion will take us to the Fine Art Society and the Royal Academy, where we'll engage in a discussion on the key players of the art world from the 18th century until today. We will contemplate the arbiters of style and fashion -from Beau Brummell to Saatchi and Jay Jopling- and how they can make or break the fortune of an artist.

Our walk will conclude with a visit to two of London's art institutions: Christie's and the White Cube Gallery. We'll discuss contemporary art and how a gallery like White Cube has contributed to Damien Hirst's becoming one of the highest-earning artists in the world.
At the end of our time together, we'll have a better understanding of how London’s art world functions, exploring the various ways in which art and antiques are bought and sold. We will also get the chance to visit some of the city’s most prestigious commercial galleries and auction houses, and see some important artworks and objects rarely on public view. This walk is a good complement to our British Museum and Tate Modern tour
Where You'll Start
(4.97) 26 Reviews

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Absolutely one of the best tour guides I have ever had. Knowledgeable, easy to understand, and very pleasant.
By far the best tour we had in London. Alan was so interesting and we learned so much.
Alan was terrific. We learned so much ranging from the history of the art market (including auction houses, galleries, and sellers), the neighborhood of SoHo, and the current art market.