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Deja vu: eBay to Kick off Live Auctions on Thursday

eBay will kick off its first live auction on Thursday after a 5-year absence. The distinction goes to an auction of perfume bottles conducted by Indianapolis auction house Ripley Auctions, to be followed by a Swann Galleries auction of African-American fine art featuring the Richard A. Long Collection, and a discovery auction conducted by auction house Peachtree & Bennett of Atlanta.

eBay is working with live-auction platform Invaluable in what was called an exclusive deal when announced in May, though eBay announced in July that Sotheby’s would be its anchor auction house.

Much of the details had yet to be worked out in May, but eBay’s General Manager of Emerging Verticals Gene Cook told EcommerceBytes at the time that the live auctions would be deeply integrated into areas of the eBay site and that a search on eBay for a collectible would bring up results for live auctions alongside listings for traditional auction and fixed-price listings.

The live auction platform is now available on the eBay website under “Collectibles & Art” – “Shop Events” – “Live Auctions.”

eBay explains how the live auctions work on this page, where it states, “We’re opening the doors of traditional auction houses, giving global shoppers a new way to bid on world-class art and collectibles. This is the classic auction house experience, with an innovative twist.”

eBay issued a press release about the new platform on Tuesday, and it explained its relationship with Sotheby’s. “As previously announced, eBay has also partnered with the iconic international art business and auctioneer, Sotheby’s, to be the anchor tenant of the new live auctions experience. In the coming months, eBay will begin to offer a number of live auctions that are taking place at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York. The Sotheby’s auctions will present 18 collecting categories. The two companies are exploring themed and time-based sales, as well as live auctions from Sotheby’s other global salesrooms.”

When speaking to Cook and Invaluable’s CEO Rob Weisberg in May, we got the idea they were counting on mobile bidding playing a major role in the success of the new eBay live auctions. However, live auction items aren’t available on all mobile devices – at least not yet. “To browse and bid on live auction items, go to eBay.com on your tablet, desktop, or laptop,” eBay advises on the site.

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.