By Scott Wright

A SCOTTISH auction house has hailed its successful transition to an online bidding platform amid the disruption stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lyon & Turnbull, one of Scotland’s oldest fine art and antiques auctioneers, is now seeing around 60 per cent of its sales being generated online after introducing a virtual bidding platform when the country moved into lockdown in March. Online auctions had previously accounted for 33% of sales.

The transition has helped the company, which operates from Georgian headquarters in Edinburgh and has galleries in Glasgow and London, attract a younger demographic, with 44% of sales now coming from 25 to 44 year olds. A rare books auction in June produced a record online bid when a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was sold to an international buyer for £125,000 using the L&T Live free bidding platform.

The auctioneer said it has seen a 39% increase in the number of registrations per auction since the start of the year compared with 2019.

It noted that it had attracted nearly 500 international, remote bidders for its Scottish Painting and Sculptures sale in July, with 100 out of 103 lots sold. Sales included a seascape by the Victorian painter, William McTaggart, which went under the hammer for £45,000.

Gavin Strang, managing director, said items are fetching higher prices than before lockdown, with some traditional art and antiques achieving better prices than they have for a decade. The percentage sell-through rate is also generally higher than before the pandemic took hold, he added. As yet, auctions are taking place online only, though this is being reviewed on a monthly basis. Mr Strang said: “We are all very proud of being able to adapt so quickly and stay active throughout the lockdown and for getting the results we did for our clients, especially when so many other auctions across the UK were cancelled or postponed.”