As of 1st February, buyers will be charged under the new rate of 25% on the first $200 000 of the hammer price, 20% on the portion of the hammer price above $200 000 upto $3 million and finally 12% on the remaining amounts above $3 million. Buyers will also pay the final auction price as well as these percentages.

President and CEO Bill Ruprecht said: "This will improve Sotheby's revenue, strengthen the Company's profit margins, fund innovation, help us continue to make interesting and exciting investments in the business, and support our growing online and traditional engagement with clients around the world."

The rate structure currently means buyers pay 25% on the first $100 000, 20% on $100 000 unto $2 million and 12% on any prices above the remaining amount above $2 million;.

These changes to the buyers' premium will make for interesting changes in the auction market.