London has numerous auction houses, but the three most famous are Christie's, Phillips and Sotheby's (see below).
It can be great fun visiting these, for many of the pieces that are auctioned by these three houses are of museum quality and cost the earth. In addition if some priceless pieces is being exchanged between private collections then it will probably never be on public display except for the time it is in the auction house.
So for art and antique lovers, these auction houses can be heaven. But remember not to get carried away with the whole thing or you could find yourself bidding for something you neither want nor like, and can't afford!
Entry to the galleries is free, although to follow the proceedings properly you will probably need to purchase a catalogue, which usually cost around £10.
|Christie's, Phillips and Sotheby's|
8 King's Street, SW1
Nearest Tube: Green Park
Christie's auction house was founded in 1766, and specialises in fine art. The most famous sale to be made here was van Gogh's Sunflowers which was sold for a whopping £24.75 million in 1987. But in 1990 this was beaten by van Gogh's Portrait of Dr Gachet, which went for £49.1 million.
Christies is open daily except Saturday (viewing only on Sundays), but times vary so check in advance.
7 Blenheim Street, W1
Nearest Tube: Bond Street
This auction house was founded in 1796 by Harry Phillips, who had been the head clerk of one of London's other famous auction houses, Christie's. It too, specialises in the auction of fine art.
Phillips is open daily except Saturday (viewing only on Sundays), but times vary so check in advance.
34-35 New Bond Street, W1
Nearest Tube: Bond Street
This is the oldest of London's three main auction houses, dating back to 1745. Until the early 20th century Sotheby's specialised in auctioning books, but during the last 80 years they have increasingly specialised in fine art. Other areas that Sotheby's specialises in include manuscripts, medals and coins.
Sotheby's is the only one out of Christie's Phillips and Sotheby's that will give you a free valuation of your favourite heirloom, but remember that hundreds of other people will also be there hoping that they are the owner of a masterpiece, so expect to queue.
Sotheby's is open daily except Saturday (viewing only on Sundays), but times vary so check in advance.
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