Sotheby’s (BID) and Ebay to Begin Live Auctions

Shares of Sotheby's (BID) were trading down -0.07 or -0.17 percent to $40.91 in Tuesday's premarket after news that the company will be offering live auctions on a new Ebay (EBAY) auctions platform. The new live auctions platform will debut next month. Sotheby's stock closed at $40.98, up +0.45 percent in Monday's regular trading session.

Founded in London in 1744, New York City based Sotheby's is a multinational corporation and one of the world's largest auctioneers, specializing in the brokering of fine art, jewelry, real estate and collectibles.
Sotheby's holds auctions in nine different locations, with showrooms in London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong. Through the company's BidNow program, investors and collectors can view auctions live on the Internet and place bids in real time from around the world. In addition, Sotheby's Financial Services offers collectors and investors the world's only full service financing company specializing in art. Sotheby's operates through a global network of 90 offices in 40 countries.

The result of a partnership announced last summer, the new platform, is already online today and will begin holding live auctions on April 1st. The site is up for browsing the company's catalogue, seeing upcoming events and placing advance bids on items up for auction. The website is designed to offer art enthusiasts and collectors to participate in Sotheby's live auctions with the same presence and opportunity as those bidding in person at their New York auction house.

The first auction will be of 188 lots of photographs from Ansel Adams, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Paul Strand among others. The auction will also include a lot of 13 letters of the 1970s Yankee Stadium sign from the collection of baseball icon Reggie Jackson and worth as much as $600,000.

In addition to photographs of the items up for auction, the platform includes commentary and audio and video components. The platform seeks to duplicate the auction catalogue digitally to give web users the feeling of seeing the art in a museum before taking potential bidders to their live auction page where bids can be placed in real time.

While both Christie's and Sotheby's currently hold online auctions, the partnership with Ebay gives Sothebys access to more than 150 million Ebay users. Sotheby's director of e-commerce and Senior Vice President, Josh Pullan said that, "What this partnership is about is leveraging eBay's audience and ability to target that audience and find clients that have the means to participate in a Sotheby's auction," he also told the press that, "We're really engaging and calling out the items for sale that may appeal to an online audience and that, "When you pair that with Sotheby's ... it really opens the doors of our brick-and-mortar auditions in New York, and does so in a way that's really engaging and, we think, exciting."

According to the Netherlands based European Fine Art Foundation, online sales of art and antiques are estimated to have reached as much as $3.5 billion totaling six percent of total global sales in 2014. The foundation said that most of the sales were for artwork priced between $1,000 and $50,000.

Sotheby's shareholders are on the sidelines in this morning's premarket, with the stock down a fraction and basically unchanged. The stock is up considerably from its lows made in September and could continue gaining as the partnership with ebay matures.

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Published on Mar 17, 2015
By Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk enjoyed a 12-year professional financial markets career incorporating extensive first hand futures and options experience obtained by trading in the stock, commodity and forex markets on U.S. exchanges. Since retiring as a full-time financial market professional, he has been actively trading stock, commodities, forex and options for his own account and managing funds for others, as well as writing financial market commentary and educational articles.

Copyrighted 2016. Content published with author's permission.

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