Major American and British auction houses include Bonham's, Christie's, Phillips De Pury, Sotheby's, Swann Galleries, and Tajan, but there are many, many others. The Cornell Library does not collect auction catalogs (with the exception of collections donated to the library, as in the Bertram Rosen Collection, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections), although it does hold quite a few. Here's how to find them in the catalog:
(substitute geographical information):
Art objects, African --Catalogs.
Try a publisher search for the auction house name, such as:
advanced search for
Cornell researchers have access to Bénézit via Oxford Art Online.
Bénézit includes some auction records in biographical entries on individual artists.
Historical sales information
Archival Material: Auction Catalogs, Dealers' & Gallery Records
Archives of American Art. Guide to Commercial Art Gallery Records. Many of these collections contain financial records, correspondence, and photographic documentation of objects acquired and sold in the twentieth century.
Getty: Duveen Brothers Archive Finding Guide.
Records and Research at the National Archives and Records Administration. A descriptive guide to records on holocaust-era assets at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Includes links to related resources at other institutions.