Bought in

One of those terms you encounter in art auctions, which are confusing at first. ‘Bought in’ actually means its opposite, and is a polite and sophisticated way to say that a lot has not even received its reserve price and is being returned to its owner/consignor. The object of art could also be listed as ‘passed’ or ‘withdrawn’.

When the more face saving ‘bought in’ term is applied, the auction house or auctioneer is usually listed as the buyer, hence the suggested act of ‘buying in’.