NEW YORK CITY — Sotheby’s and eBay on July 14 announced a partnership that will unite a global leader in online shopping with the international art auctioneer. The two companies said that they are developing an online platform that will make it easier for millions of people worldwide to discover, browse and acquire art, antiques and collectibles.
According to the partners, the deal combines Sotheby’s expertise with eBay’s technology platform, integrated payment solutions and experience in attracting online shoppers, estimated to be an audience of 145 million people.
Sotheby’s and eBay will start by offering a number of live auctions that are taking place at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York. To accomplish this, eBay in the near future will be launching 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 anchor tenant in the revamped marketplace, which will include a new live auction feature and real-time bidding from anywhere around 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.”
As technology evolves and mobile commerce becomes ubiquitous, collectors are increasingly purchasing high-end items online and from their mobile devices. Both companies will focus on expanding the market at price points where they expect their collectors to converge in the future and are especially interested in segments such as jewelry, watches, prints, wine, photographs and Twentieth Century design.
The global art market is currently estimated around $65 billion, with annual online sales far below averages for other luxury goods, say the partners, which project online art sales of $13 billion by 2020.