Buyers can participate in international auctions through Christies.com or Sothebys.com. Both sites show catalogues of upcoming auctions and allow prospective bidders to pre-register for bidding in specific auctions in real time.
There are several ways to participate in an auction at Christie's auction house. Bidders can bid online, provided they have pre-registered. They can participate in-person at one of Christie's many locations worldwide. Bidders can also place an absentee bid or bid by telephone.
To participate in an auction at Sotheby's, bidders must register 24 hours in advance of the auction. Bidders can enter the virtual showroom up to 20 minutes before the auction starts. Sotheby's has technical support in Europe, New York and Hong Kong to assist bidders. Sotheby's holds 250 auctions annually in London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong.
As of 2015, Christie's has 53 offices in 32 countries and holds over 450 auctions annually. Items range in price from $200 to $100 million. Auctions are held in Europe, New York, Shanghai and Mumbai, but some are strictly virtual auctions. Both houses deal in art, jewelry, historical artifacts, wine, watches and more.
Both Christies and Sotheby's were founded in London in the 18th century. Christie's has several subsidiaries, including Christie's Travel and Christie's International Luxury Real Estate, which deals in extraordinary dwellings.