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Really, really, really big numbers at auction are rare indeed. $1 Million here, $12 Million there, $49 Million on another day.

However, in November 2017 Christie’s (New York) Alex Rotter relayed a phrase from a phone bidder never before heard at an art auction: “$400 Million.” That story is here: https://www.cnn.com/style/article/alex-rotter-christies-auction/index.html.

The item was Leonardo da Vinci’s last known painting in private hands, “Salvator Mundi,” with an ultimate sale price of $450.3 Million. The buyer is believed to be Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Most auctioneers in the United States would have to admit they have never sold anything for as much as $1 Million. Far fewer have sold anything over $10 Million. Maybe only a few have sold anything over $100 Million. This subject sale was — one item — in excess of $400 Million …

As such, I suggest aspiring auctioneers practice the numbers 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 7.50 – 10 – 12.50 – 15 – 17.50 – 20 – 22.50 – 25 – 30 – 35 – 40 – 45 – 50 – 60 – 70 – 80 – 90 – 100 (or something similar) as these small numbers might make up most of their bid calling in the early stages.

How much is $450.3 Million? The entire collector car auction market in 2018 amounted to only $450 Million. $450.3 Million is one bid constituting 0.17% of the total 2018 auction market. We wrote more about that here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/the-state-of-the-united-states-auction-market-2018/.

It is certainly exciting to sell things for lots of money like this but all auctioneers who do a good service for their clients — no matter the amounts being raised — are helping their sellers improve their position and contributing to the overall economy.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.