eBay and Sotheby’s form new partnership

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Bruno Vinciguerra

Online auctioneer eBay and international auction house Sotheby’s have announced a new partnership. Together, they are working to develop an innovative online platform that will make it easier for millions of people worldwide to discover, browse and acquire exceptional works of art, antiques and collectibles.

The partnership will bring together the renowned expertise of Sotheby’s, with eBay’s technology platform, integrated payment solutions and unrivalled skill in attracting online collectors.

eBay and Sotheby’s will start by offering a number of live auctions that are taking place at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York. To accomplish this, eBay will soon launch a newly designed experience on its site, tailored for collectors of rare, unique and premium art and collectibles as well as first time buyers.

Sotheby’s will be the preeminent anchor tenant in the revamped marketplace, which will include a new live auction feature and real-time bidding from anywhere in the world.

The Sotheby’s auctions will present 18 collecting categories. Going forward, the partnership will explore themed and time-based sales, as well as live auctions from Sotheby’s other global salesrooms. Evening sales will not be included.

“The growth of the art market, new generation technology and our shared strengths make this the right time for this exciting new online opportunity,” said Bruno Vinciguerra, Sotheby’s chief operating officer.

“We are joining with eBay to make our sales more accessible to the broadest possible audience around the world.”

Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces, said: “A Sotheby’s-eBay partnership is a significant milestone in our efforts to expand the live auction market. Sotheby’s is one of the most respected names in the world.

“When you combine its inventory with eBay’s technology platform and global reach, we can give people access to the world’s finest, most inspiring items – anytime, anywhere and from any device. That is an experience we believe our customers will love.”

As technology evolves and mobile commerce becomes ubiquitous, collectors are increasingly purchasing high-end items online and even on-the-go from their mobile devices. Both companies will focus on growing the market at price points where they expect their collectors to converge in the future – particularly in the segments such as jewelry, watches, prints, wine, photographs and 20th Century design.

The global art market is currently estimated around $65 billion, with annual online sales far below averages for other luxury goods. Projections in the recent TEFAF 2014 Report show online art sales could reach $13 billion by 2020.

“We believe there is a great opportunity, through this partnership, to truly make art more accessible to exponentially more collectors. That’s what makes this so exciting,” added Vinciguerra.

Bruno Vinciguerra
Bruno Vinciguerra