|Mon July 14 2014 15:03:37|
Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions
By: Ina Steiner
Sotheby's auction house will soon allow eBay users to bid on its live auctions, according to an announcement released on Monday. Here's how eBay explained the partnership:
"Both companies contribute strong capabilities to the partnership. Sotheby's brings renowned expertise, world-class artwork and collectibles, and historic auction experience while eBay's technology platform, integrated payment solutions and unrivalled skill in attracting online collectors enable a global audience of 145 million active buyers to enjoy frictionless shopping."
eBay announced a similar but "exclusive" deal 2 months ago with Invaluable (formerly Artfact) to offer live auction bidding on its platform. When asked today how the new partnership with Sotheby's affected that exclusivity, eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore told EcommerceBytes, "It will be a single experience on eBay.com. Sotheby's is the anchor tenant with other important partners including Invaluable."
But this isn't eBay's first live-auction initiative. eBay had acquired Sotheby's competitor Butterfield & Butterfield in 1999, later selling it, and it closed its own eBay Live Auctions platform in 2009. In 2008, eBay had experienced a major technology glitch that impacted the bidding for auction houses participating on its live-auction platform - whether that was related to the closure or not is unclear.
In a piece last year predicting the resurrection of live auctions on eBay, trade paper AntiqueWeek referred to the closing of eBay Live Auction in 2009 a business decision, writing, "Although eBay will not comment, speculation is that lawsuits, technical headaches and increasing negative feedback from buyers and sellers, alike, were not worth the trouble."
We asked eBay Marketplaces GM of Emerging Verticals Gene Cook in May what had changed since 2009 to make eBay wish to launch live auctions again - see his response in this Newsflash piece.
eBay and Sotheby's had attempted to hook up before. In 2002, Sotheby's moved its online auction business to a new site built and hosted by eBay, but the partnership fell apart.
An eBay seller wrote to EcommerceBytes, "I wonder what the eBay strategy is now. This move seems better for eBay than Sotheby's."
Another user wrote on a discussion board that he believed it was meant to distract investors and analysts from eBay's second-quarter earnings release due on Wednesday, the first following news of the eBay hack and Google punishment.
It's fascinating to take a look back at what then eBay CEO Meg Whitman said about the acquisition of Butterfield & Butterfield in this CNET article from 15 years ago. Excerpt:
"Whitman regards Butterfield & Butterfield's appraisal and authentication services, which certify that an item not a fake, will boost eBay's efforts to sell pricier goods. The deal will bring fine and decorative art and collectibles online, giving eBay members "access to many of the world's outstanding collections," Whitman said in a statement."
What's old is new again - will eBay have any better luck this time around?