Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon July 14 2014 15:03:37

Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

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.

Seller Reaction
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?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Jul 14 16:52:39 2014

I am sure Sotheby's will love their exposure to the coddled masses of non paying eBay bidders and eBay's failure to address offenders.

Perhaps this partnership will drive the need for eBay to address the NPB issue once and for all, but I am not holding my breath.

Then again, knowing the way eBay management thinks and acts, they will sanction only those NPB's who interfere with a Sotheby's auction and turn a blind eye to the same problems elsewhere on the site.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 14 17:33:24 2014

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA just wait till Sotheby's experiences some of eBays "seller protection".

Just wait till Sotheby's gets emails about auctions of 75 yr old Lionel trians complaining SNAD ... theres no smoke from the engine like on the box lid, or "my Corgi toy doesnt have a real Corgi dog with it", or "the color of the Dinky Routemaster bus does not accurately match the color of the REAL bus that plied the M5 yrs ago -  I know cause I rode one'>

Boy, both companies must be SO desperate for business ...

Sotheby's will experience the full eBay treatment of seller protection when a coddled eBay buyer swaps a vintage item for new or swaps a vintage painting or manuscript (or coin or gold etc) for a fake.... god help them ... LMAO.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 14 18:29:42 2014

We all know what a freaking disaster eBay management is; now I guess we can add Sotheby's management to that same classification. I had any of their stock I would get rid of it as this agreement shows a definite lack of good judgement on Sotheby's part.  

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Jul 14 18:31:35 2014

Does anyone honestly believe Sotheby's will be forced to adhere to the same seller exterminating policies we do?

NPBs are far less of a problem for me these days. They've been replaced by men with anger management problems, whining little princesses, refund extortionists, those seeking refunds plus the free merchandise, and feedback blackmailers.

Perhaps the aforementioned classes of ebay buyers will find nothing of interest at Sotheby's.

Ebay is dog paddling backwards as fast as they can. I actually received a seller satisfaction survey a few days ago without a 'customer service' contact triggering it.

Back to the Future! Too late, Ho!

You don't need Sotheby's. You need all of us back. Good luck with that.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: Damariscotta This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 14 18:41:14 2014

I remember when Sotheby's did this the first time around, and I actually bought some nice things - but in those days, I worked where I could use high speed internet, while many others were on dial up. Not sure if they discontinued due to eBay, or that they had overhead too high to make it worthwhile to sell (for them) lower range items.

Still not clear if this plan is to sell under the eBay flag, or just use their technology. I regularly buy at another high end auction house that offers this service, and it is all under their brand (although I am sure the tech end is contracted out). I would be surprised that Sotheby's would want to have their brand associated with eBay. Even Kmart would have more prestige.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Jul 14 20:00:22 2014

This is a TRAIN WRECK waiting to happen. Who took the Sotheby's brain trust out to dinner and got them drunk enough to accept this ridiculous proposal, is my question...

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Jul 14 21:59:46 2014

Stop and think people. This whole "team-up" and the timing of the press release of it is a desperate attempt to rally the stock price because the Quarterly Report numbers that come out in 2 days (Wednesday July 16th) are going to look pretty dismal. The spin doctors are counting on the idea that enough potential investors will be "wowed" by the Sotheby's prospect that they will overlook the fact that the ebay ship is sinking...

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Mon Jul 14 22:10:56 2014

Unbelievable that Sotherbys would associate themselves with such an obvious "dog" (don't they look at the stock market performance and wonder what is going on at eBay?); still going down market on eBay; things must also be desperate in the up market area ...

Regardless, they are all crooks; Sotherbys and Christies were convicted of unfair trade practices some years ago, so Sotherbys will be in good company with Johnny Ho and eBay ...

eBay Inc, where the incompetent mingle with the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Jul 14 22:15:37 2014

Regardless, Sotheby’s are dreaming if they think that they are going to get, on eBay, the sort of prices that they take “off the wall” in their up-market auction rooms. Dream on Sotheby’s; and you too, Johnny Ho ...

eBay Inc, where the incompetent mingle with the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: tony bonn This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jul 14 22:36:05 2014

ebay learned enough to trade on its strengths rather than its wishes by not trying to buy Sotheby's, although they may well go there in time.

ebay benefits - Sotheby's does not. not only do they tarnish their image by associating with a carnival, but their core clientele does not shop ebay. perhaps Sotheby's wants to move down market, but there no money there.

this relationship has much better prospects than the bb project, but margins will hurt in a big way. Sotheby's is losing it.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 14 23:14:12 2014

Ming is right when he correctly says "Does anyone honestly believe Sotheby's will be forced to adhere to the same seller exterminating policies we do?"

ummm my question to you sir would be ... since eBay and Paypal are afraid of the all powerful chargeback (they never negotiated a proper system as Paypal isnt a bank nor a supplier of direct merchant services) ... how long until Sothebys gives up due to those chargebacks?

We both know that the chargeback is the ultimate weapon Paypal uses against sellers (theres 3 types - so says Paypal)(and Ive even had Paypal tell customer to initiate one - just to get even with me) ... can/will Sothebys handle them?

Can they deal with the inevitable flood of INRs, SNADs or worse?

Macys learned when they partnered up with eBay, so did Buy and many others (some like B&H photo outright refused a free eBay store - they were so against eBays policies) ... when will retail learn - eBay isnt your partner - they are a parasite.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 14 23:26:34 2014

I don't think this affects any of Ebay's regular sellers. The type of items Southeby's auctions offer are much much more pricier than the average person can afford. I just wonder how they are going to deal with bidders who don't follow through and with returns?

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: Leesantiques This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 15 06:01:09 2014

I'm wondering what Sotheby's shipping terms are going to be.  Last time I dealt with them (several years ago) they wanted something like $200 to ship a couple of books.  Packing costs and all of that, don't you know.....

Seriously, those were books that I would have charged maybe $3 or $4 to ship.

Similar pricing for shipping other stuff as well.  Just wait until some buyer gets his invoice......

And, what are the buyer's premiums going to be?  The same 25% or so that Sotheby's gets in its showroom?  Something higher, so that Ebay gets a cut?

Considering that most buyers on Ebay don't even know what a buyer's premium is......

This is going to be interesting to watch.

Lee

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jul 15 06:08:09 2014

Upscale auction house just went downscale.  Sotheby's has instantly lost their cache with me.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 15 08:41:56 2014

Sotherby will be treated different.  No charge backs, No returns, period.

Hard to believe Sotherby's is getting that desperate.  Maybe they have a warehouse full of ''junque'' that didn't sell and they just want to get rid of it.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Tue Jul 15 08:43:08 2014

The New York Times article fleshed out the news a bit more going into the whys & wherefores of the previous attempt and the current rivalry between Sotheby's & Christie's.
I think you can read the article without a subscription.

The interesting part is no PayPal at this point, and that eBay's auction revenue was about 50% of their gross revenue ("For eBay, which reported overall revenues of $16 billion in 2013, and $8.3 billion for its online auction unit, the goal of the partnership is to create a shopping mall with Sotheby’s as its anchor tenant. The company hopes that customers who might go there first to bid with Sotheby’s will then explore the rest of the site. ")

In any case, it is big business catering to big business and has nothing to do with anything else.

Also note the references to "malls" & not Main Street, that'll tell you where eBay's mindset is - late 20th Century sprawl.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Tue Jul 15 08:44:52 2014

The URL for the article is:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/arts/design/with-ebay-partner
ship-sothebys-extends-potential-reach-by-145-million.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0
 

Just cut & paste the whole thing.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 15 09:30:25 2014

Agreed that the most glaring issue here is "NO PAYPAL".

How did that happen and can the rest of us get on that train?

"Though eBay also owns PayPal, for now Mr. Vinciguerra of Sotheby’s said shoppers would pay Sotheby’s directly for their purchases".

Without Paypal (a %2 revenue uptick on every sale) sticking its nose into every sale and being eBay's leg breakers, eBay wont be able to force its terms on Sothebys customers. It removes INR, it removes SNAD and it removes returns - good move on Sothebys part.

Its an important piece of the puzzle and says alot about what they REALLY think about eBa and Paypal.

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: LDS Brother

Tue Jul 15 09:36:39 2014

AMEN Brother/Sister Netwatch !

You have hit the nail on the head !

The Magician John Donahoe is ready to pull a rabbit out of his hat yet again ! And in my opinion your spot on when you have declared:

"This whole "team-up" and the timing of the press release of it is a desperate attempt to rally the stock price because the Quarterly Report numbers that come out in 2 days (Wednesday July 16th) are going to look pretty dismal. The spin doctors are counting on the idea that enough potential investors will be "wowed" by the Sotheby's prospect that they will overlook the fact that the ebay ship is sinking..."

Perminate Link for Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions   Sotheby's to Sell on eBay Live Auctions

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Jul 15 09:56:59 2014

I don't see this partnership as being a success since the majority of the buyers on eBay are looking for the cheapest prices and free shipping. Unless Sotheby's is planning to auction 99 cent cell phone cases. If I was looking to purchase fine art, rare antiques, etc., eBay would certainly not be the first place I'd think to look.  

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