Sotheby's enlists eBay to expand live auction bidding

Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:52pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two of the biggest names in auction sales, the traditional Sotheby's and the digital pioneer eBay, said on Monday they are joining forces to make it easier to buy antiques, collectibles and works of fine art online.

The two plan to stream selected auctions with live bidding in real time late this year or early in 2015 from Sotheby's New York headquarters.

The deal will connect the 270-year-old Sotheby's, with its extensive inventory of fine art, antiques, books, jewels, watches and furniture, with eBay's 145 million active buyers around the world.

"We are joining with eBay to make our sales more accessible to the broadest possible audience around the world," Bruno Vinciguerra, Sotheby's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Traditional evening auctions, where contemporary or Impressionist works of art can sell for $50 million and more, will not be included on eBay. Auctions from other locations such as London, Hong Kong, Paris or Geneva could follow in the future.

Auction houses, including Sotheby's and rival Christie's, have conducted online sales for years. But the deal gives Sotheby's the advantage of eBay's digital technology and online marketing skills, and potentially more bidders and higher prices and sales.

“Combining our expertise, our ability to source material and authenticate it, and the quality of what Sotheby's offers with eBay's technology platform and reach it makes for a very compelling combination," Andrew Gully, worldwide director of communications at Sotheby's, told Reuters.

"The audience is so large I don't think at this point we can predict specifically what impact it will have. But with more bidders it is logical to assume prices can go higher in an auction," he added.   Continued...