It was one for the record books—the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection, an assortment of art, furniture and other prized possessions—sold for $832 million at Christie’s auction house May 11. Generating the biggest profit ever on a single collection, the sale included things you’d never find in a department store: a picnic set from the king of Morocco and a set of china used by Napoleon.
While this unprecedented sale drew a lot of press, auctions take place every week. Anyone with money and an interest in art, collectibles, fine jewelry and other treasures can join in. Sotheby’s, which just sold the late actor Paul Newman’s rare Rolex Daytona for nearly a million bucks, even shares a glossary of auction terms on its website for beginners. (Words like “hammer” and “knocked down” take on a whole new meaning!)
There is a plethora of auction houses to explore with events open to the public regardless of your budget—the action takes place round the world and as close to home as New York City.
Get ready for the auction by reviewing e-catalogues, pre-sale exhibitions and the event calendar then registering for the sale. On auction day, expect the auctioneer to look for new bids that beat the one before by 10 percent.
For fashions that fit the occasion, let Garmany’s stylists outfit you in a day-to-night look. When the auction is over, you’ll be ready to reflect on your exciting day over cocktails.