Aspiring art collectors, take note: you can now browse, and even bid on, works of art from your smartphone or tablet, thanks to apps by Christie's and Live Auctioneers. The art might be expensive, but it's free to look, since the apps don't cost a thing. See our photo gallery below for a look into the world of mobile art auctions.
Christie’s offers free apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. All three allow you to bid and browse on the go, yet the screen size, layout and visual design of the iPad app makes it significantly more pleasant to navigate. The home screen is divided into four main sections: a slider with the featured auctions, a photo gallery, recent auction results, and the navigation bar on the bottom.
When you click on a featured auction, such as "Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian, and Turkish Art," you can view the lots for sale at that particular event. Completed auctions include actual price details, while estimated prices are shown for upcoming auctions. Should you need more information regarding the sale, just hit the "Sale Information" button; here, you’ll find the sale location, auction times, viewing times, as well as contact information, including emails and phone numbers of the auction administrators.
For each work of art, you can click on a "More Details" button to view additional information. You’ll find a lot description, including details on whether the work is signed, titled, numbered and/or dated. Below, the app lists the provenance and where the work has been exhibited in the past. If applicable, there is a "Special Notice" section that informs you of any additional information and/or charges that may apply (such as Artist’s Resale Right charges). At the very bottom, you can also click on "More options on Christies.com" to view even more details. Note that you will need to have an internet connection to use any part of the Christie’s app that requires searching for art works, and connecting to Christies.com.
The "Buying & Selling" section of the Christie's app offers detailed information on how to register, bid, choose a bidding method, arrange payment, and make shipping arrangements. Note that you can’t bid directly through the app; you’ll need to do so online through "Christie’s LIVE," which is reachable from the mobile website. You'll have to register online at least 2 business days before a sale. Should you be interested in selling, you’ll find details on how to get a property valuation as well as how to receive payment if your item is successfully sold.
LiveAuctioneers.com also offers art auction apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Compared with the Christie’s apps, the LiveAuctioneers.com apps are significantly less appealing on a visual level. While the layout is easy to understand, I missed the high quality photos I had seen at Christie’s. On the home screen, you can choose to navigate to the following sections: Auctions, Search, Latest News, Featured Auctions, Featured Items and Log In.
Click on "Auctions," and the app takes you to the "Live Catalog." Again, while the layout is simple, it is relatively unexciting – there are no images at all. Moreover, should you be navigating the app on a smartphone and not a tablet, you might have trouble clicking on the right auction; the text is small and close together, so it could take a couple of tries to make the right selection.
Once you click on a single lot (in this example, lot 135), you can view an image of the piece for sale, as well as the highest current bid. If the auction is still going on, you’ll be able to see the bid rise in the process. If you'd like to bid, you'll need to register online.
While Christie’s focuses only on its own auctions, Live Auctioneers has a section dedicated to news about the auction market in general. Here, you’ll find information on upcoming sales, sales that achieved records, updates on new exhibits, or even on particular pieces of art. For example, you can find out about tests that revealed damage to a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece. It's worth taking some time to browse around and read – it might get you inspired.