DEFINITION of 'Auction House'

A company that facilitates the buying and selling of assets, such as works of art and collectibles. An auction house may sometimes refer to the facility that an auction is taking place in, most commonly refers to the company running the auction.

BREAKING DOWN 'Auction House'

Historically, auctions have been used both to sell the assets of those looking to dispose of them, as well as to liquidate the assets of debtors. Auctions took place in many different facilities, as well as in the open air public spaces. Enclosed showroom auction houses began in the 17th century. The oldest auction house is the Stockholms Auktionsverk in Stockholm, Sweden. It was founded in 1674.

Some of the most famous auction houses are Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and focus almost exclusively on high end art and collectibles. While most often associated with the sale of famous works of art, auction houses can be used in the sale of all sorts of assets, including commodities.

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