Sotheby’s calls on eBay to develop live auctions

Two of the biggest names in auctions, traditional Sotheby’s and digital pioneer eBay, said on Monday they were joining forces to make it easier to buy antiques, collectibles and works of art online. ‘art.

The two plan to broadcast selected auctions with real-time live bidding later this year or early 2015 from Sotheby’s headquarters in New York.

The deal will connect 270-year-old Sotheby’s, with its vast inventory of art, antiques, books, jewelry, watches and furniture, with eBay’s 145 million active buyers. in the world.

“We are partnering with eBay to make our sales more accessible to the widest possible audience around the world,” Bruno Vinciguerra, chief executive of Sotheby’s, said in a statement.

Traditional evening auctions, where contemporary or impressionist artwork 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 may follow in the future.

Auction houses, including Sotheby’s and rival Christie’s, have been selling online 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 find material and authenticate it, and the quality of what Sotheby’s offers with eBay’s technology platform and reach makes for a very compelling combination,” said Andrew Gully, global director of communications at Sotheby’s, to Reuters.

“The audience is so large that I don’t think at this stage we can predict precisely what impact this will have. But with more bidders, it is logical to assume that prices may rise at an auction” , he added.

Auctions for jewelry, watches, prints, wine, photography, and some fine art are expected to air online with prices between $5,000 and $100,000.

Themed auctions, such as Sotheby’s recent roll n’ rock memorabilia sale, can also be streamed online.

The company comes as prices for individual works of art at auction have reached record highs. Francis Bacon’s triptych painting “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” sold for $142.4 million last November in New York, the highest price ever for an object sold at auction.

Total sales in the global art and antiques market rose 8% to $65.9 billion last year, the highest level since 2007, with Asian buyers playing an increasingly important role , according to the annual report of the European Fine Arts Foundation.

Online sales could grow at a rate of at least 25% a year after accounting for about 5% of sales in 2013, the foundation said.

Sotheby’s said online bidders competed for 17% of total lots on offer in 2013, while the number of lots purchased online jumped 36% from 2012.

John James Audubon’s book ‘The Birds of America’, which fetched $3.5 million, set the record for an online purchase at a live auction at Sotheby’s in April.

For eBay, the deal with Sotheby’s is a chance to expand into the live auction market.

“When we combine its inventory with eBay’s technology platform and global reach, we can give people access to the world’s most beautiful and inspiring items – anytime, anywhere, and from anywhere. any device,” said Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces.

Shares of Sotheby’s closed up 1%, or 40 cents, at $40.09 on Monday. Shares of eBay ended down 0.7%, or 34 cents, at $51.16.

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