How Estate Auctions Are Helping People Ease Financial Burdens

In today’s economic climate, you sometimes have to be creative with the way you secure needed funds. When a loved one dies, or if you are going through a divorce, you may be faced with some pretty difficult financial realities. If you find yourself in these situations, or in others, don’t panic– an estate auction or sale might be an option to help shoulder some of the financial burden.

The Celebrity Factor

Estate Auction - Russell Crowe
Source: Sotheby’s

The good news is, even celebrities are doing it. On April 7th 2018, actor Russell Crowe had several interesting items go up for sale to help pay for his divorce. The auction which took place at Sotheby’s, was even called “The Art of Divorce.”

Some items that were on the auction block included the breastplate Crow wore in the box office hit “Gladiator” which went for $125,000, as well as the matching leather wrist cuffs that fetched $32,000. Other pieces of movie memorabilia and an instrument collection were also up for sale. Crowe made a cool $3.7 million with the auction which will go towards assisting him with his divorce proceedings.

Estate Auction - Gold Piano

Zsa Zsa Gabor’s long-term partner Hans Robert Lichtenberg aka Prince Frederic von Anhalt, held an exclusive estate auction at their Bel Air mansion on April 14th, 2018 in an effort to downsize. Items from the sale raised over $900,000 according to Fortune.

Some items that were on the auction included a wardrobe of Chanel, Valentino, and other famous designers; as well as Gabor’s gold-painted Steinway piano which went for $24,000.

The item that fetched the highest price was a portrait of the actress which was done by the artist Margaret Keane which sold for $45,000. The auction was managed by Heritage Auctions.

The Advantages of Estate Auctions and Sales

Despite these flashier examples of recent celebrity auctions, the broader point is people across income brackets have estate sales and auctions. It is a way to create a source of income that can help you out of a difficult time in your life. While it can be lucrative, it can also be a bit challenging for the average person to organize.

Although, it can be overwhelming when you start to consider the logistics of organizing an estate sale or auction, it is something that will literally pay off in the end. On the bright side, there are companies that can be hired that are skilled in handling the sometimes-tricky issues that may come up when preparing for such an event.

Estate sales and auctions are an especially helpful solution if there are multiple people disputing an estate. By involving a third party, this can not only help reduce the stress of the situation but can also free you up to handle other details.

It can be daunting to go through a loved one’s lifetime’s worth of items; and dividing up their belongings just becomes another task to deal with. These four tips will give you a better sense of how to approach the situation and what to expect.

Make sure you are the survivor(s) of the estate

When you begin to make plans to have an estate auction or sale, make sure that you and or members of your family are the appointed survivors of the estate. Legally, only the person or people the estate has been left to can sell the items.

Know the difference between an estate sale and auction

Estate sales function almost as if they are a tag sale, where each item is priced accordingly prior to the sale. At an estate auction there is an auctioneer who sells the item to the highest bidder. Sometimes when there are multiple people involved in dividing up an estate, things can get complicated.

Things can be become harrier if people aren’t on the same page about how items should be divided or if family members have been estranged.

What to do if you need funds sooner

Sometimes when you are dealing with these kinds of difficult life circumstances, you may need to generate funds faster than you may be able to hold an estate auction. One solution to that problem could be to consign specific items from the estate to an auction.

Rather than waiting for the item to sell at auction, you can work with a company like Borro, to get funds in advance of it being sold. This is what’s referred to as a Sale Advance Loan.

Do your homework

If you decide to go the route of hiring a company to assist you with your auction or sale, do your homework.  Make sure you are working with a reputable company who is insured, licensed, and bonded. This is important to protect you against any potential damages that could occur. Getting referrals from people who have used a company previously can also be a way to go.

Estate Auction - Silver Bowl
Daniel Christian Fueter (1720–1785), Silver Sugar Bowl. Gift of The Estate of Esther and Samuel Schwartz, Paterson, N.J., 2007 Source: The Met

Don’t throw items away before are looked at or appraised

If you are unsure of an item’s value, leave it to the professionals to figure it out. You never know what might interest a potential buyer, so when going through your loved one’s belongings, its best to save everything for the sale or auction.

Something that you may think is junk, could be a collector’s item and there is no way to know unless it is properly looked at.

Have realistic goals

While an estate auction or sale can generate a lot of money, be realistic about it. You never know how much money you will make over the course of your sale or auction, so by having no expectations about a final sales total, it will leave you happier in the end.

Arming yourself with this information can help the process of organizing your estate auction or sale easier. Although it seems like a lot to take on for a short one to three-day event, it will likely turn a profit and help ease some of the financial strain you may experience.

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About the Author:

Anni Irish has been a contributing writer to several online publications including Boston based publication, The Dig, New York Arts Magazine, and ArteFuse among others. She holds a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University, an MA in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons College, and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University.