3 min article

Participating in live auction events

With live auction events, you can bid on world-class art and collectibles offered by auction houses directly on eBay.

No matter what your passion or interest, eBay's live auctions online has bidding events for every taste, with one-of-a-kind items from collectible toys to decor to bullion.

Explore auctions

Featuring high-end auction houses, members can enjoy real-time internet bidding on all the special items you love, against online bidders and bidders who are at the auction house in person. You can keep track of events on our live auction calendar - opens in new window or tab.

How to sign up for a live auction

Once you find an event you'd like to participate in, you'll need to sign up and be approved by both eBay and the auction house holding the event in order to bid at the live auction.

To sign up:

  1. Find a live auction event you're interested in.
  2. Select sign up.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

Approval to bid can be granted immediately, but it may take up to 72 hours. Some auction houses require that you sign up 24 hours before an event, and others don't allow sign-up for auctions that have already started.

When you sign up for an event, you see a message letting you know whether you've been approved or declined, or if your approval is pending from the auction house. Some auction houses may contact you if they need more information.

When you're approved, you'll see your bid limit (if there is one). If you'd like to request a higher bid limit, contact the auction house directly. Be sure to include the event name in your request.

eBay and the auction house have the right to decline any bidder, and may not provide a reason.

Signing up for an event usually goes smoothly, but there's a small chance you could be declined. You could be declined if:

  • There are unpaid items or restrictions on your eBay account. Contact us for help
  • You're located outside the stated shipping region for the item
  • There are other buyer restrictions from the auction house. You should contact the auction house directly for more information

Understanding lots

Items being offered as part of a live auction event are called lots.

If you want to bid on a lot, keep in mind that:

  • Events include a collection of individual lots and can sometimes last several hours
  • The auctioneer for the event controls the auction, for people physically in the room as well as those bidding online, and decides the order in which the lots come up for sale
  • In the bidding console, or event window, you see a slider bar containing thumbnails of the individual lots offered as part of the event. Lots usually come up for auction in the order in which they're listed in the thumbnails, but this isn't always the case. The auctioneer may decide to take an item out of order
  • The upper left corner of the event page shows the lot currently up for bidding

Bidding on an item

Live auction events are exciting and fast-paced. They can take you by surprise, so it's helpful to get familiar with how live bidding works, and watch a few auctions in progress, before you actually place any bids.

Bid types

There are two types of bids for a lot during a live auction event:

  • Floor: A bid from someone physically in the room where the auction is being held
  • Online: A bid from someone participating through eBay or another online platform

Bidding on live auction events is quick and easy, discover more with our helpful video - opens in new window or tab.

On-increment bidding

In live auctions, bids can only be increased by a set amount. This is called the bid increment, and it's set by the auction house holding the event. In a live auction event, all bids must be on-increment.

For example, if an item has a current bid of $3,000 and the bid increment is $250, the next bid must be $3,250, then $3,500 (or more, as long as it's on-increment). You can't bid $3,342 since this amount is off-increment.

Advance bids

In many live auctions, advance bidding works just like other max bids on eBay, except:

  • Advance bidding is blind. You won't know if you're the highest bidder or if you've been outbid by another advance bid
  • All bids have to be on-increment
  • For many auctions, you can place an advance bid up until the start of the event. Some auction houses allow advance bids only within an hour of the auction start time
  • You can see your advance bids in Bids/Offers - opens in new window or tab in My eBay up until the event starts
  • You can increase your advance bid by placing another advance bid up until the event starts
  • If your advance bid wins the auction, a buyer's premium is added on top of your bid

Bidding during a live auction

Just like attending an auction in person, watch each bid as it comes in. When you’re ready to bid, it’s a simple click.

When you bid during a live auction:

  • You see your bid amount, along with the calculated buyer's premium. When you submit your bid, you're acknowledging that, should you win the auction, there's an additional fee on top of the bid amount
  • When an auctioneer receives multiple online bids of the same amount, the first bid takes precedence
  • Choosing between a floor bid and an online bid of the same amount is at the discretion of the auctioneer

Canceling a bid

As a general rule, you can't retract or cancel a bid. Once you place an advance bid or a bid through the bidding console during an event, you agree to pay for the item if you're the winning bidder. However, honest mistakes sometimes occur. Learn more about retracting or canceling your bid.

Winning a live auction

If you've won a live auction, here's what happens next:

  1. We email you after the event ends (not after the bidding on a particular lot is finished), to let you know you won.
  2. The auction house sends you an invoice, including payment and shipping information.
  3. You're responsible for working directly with the auction house seller to pay for your item and arrange and pay for shipping.

You can see your purchase in My eBay - opens in new window or tab. If you don't, it may mean you didn't actually win. The auction house may have decided not to sell the item, or there might have been a clerical error.

Live auction items are covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee, or in the case of Sotheby's live auction items, by the terms of guarantee as described in the Sotheby's conditions of sale.

For more information, visit our Live Auctions - opens in new window or tab page.

With live auction events - opens in new window or tab, you can bid on world-class art and collectibles offered by auction houses directly on eBay.

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