Are you bound to a bid at auction?

February 12, 2019 - 3:15 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The owner of a chain of sushi restaurants in Japan admitted he got a little carried away when he went to a tuna auction — which, in other news, is a thing.  

He said he expected to pay at most $1 million for a 613-pound tuna, but it looked so fresh and tasty that he got carried away, paying three times that — $3.1 million, equal to $315 an ounce. 

Are you legally bound to complete a purchase if you are the winning bid on something at an auction? And, is the seller bound to sell it if your bid is lower than he wanted to get for it? 

While different jurisdictions may have adopted slightly different rules, under the Uniform Commercial Code, an auction purchase is complete once the hammer drops. If the seller doesn't like what appears to be the final bid before the announcer drops the hammer and says "sold," he can withdraw the item, but once that hammer drops, the sale is complete. 

The same is true for bidders — no backsies, even if you made a bid that was a lot more than you planned.