eBay pushed into collectibles and live auctions last year and now the U.S. retailer is adding a notable name to its list: prestigious auction house Sotheby’s. The duo have teamed up to live-stream auctions from Sotheby’s and allow prospective buyers to place bids in real-time via eBay.
Starting April 1 — this is not a prank despite the date — eBay.com/Sothebys will let you bid for items right from the comfort of their sofa, local coffee shop or — well — anywhere. Sotheby’s stressed that “much” of its catalog is sub-$25,000. “You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much museum-worthy artwork has the same price as a designer handbag,” it said, in an effort to dispel any suggestion that this news is strictly for the one-percenters.
The site is already live, but all you’ll see right now is an events calendar and details of Sotheby’s collections.
eBay began running live auctions last October in collaboration with a handful of houses, including Doyle New York, Freeman’s, Garth’s Auctions and Swann Auction Galleries. The concept itself isn’t new either. Alibaba has sold off artwork on its services in the past. Indeed, Chairman and founder Jack Ma once sold a painting for 2.42 million yuan (around $390,000) via its Taobao consumer-to-consumer service.
Sotheby’s first tie-up with eBay happened last summer when it started listing collectibles on the main service. This time it is adding the excitement and drama of an auction house.
Now Sotheby’s, which is arguably as close to a household name as an auction house can be, has jumped aboard to give the initiative a wider profile.