EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 250 - February 01, 2002     1 of 4

Sotheby's and eBay Announce Strategic Alliance

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Sotheby's and eBay announced a strategic online alliance that will ultimately eliminate auctions on and eBay Premier. Sotheby's will move its online auction business to a new site to be built and hosted by eBay. Sotheby's will also adopt eBay's Live Auctions technology to enable real-time online bidding for "a significant number" of Sotheby's traditional auctions held in New York and London.

In 1999, eBay purchased Butterfield & Butterfield, one of the largest and most prestigious auction houses along with Sotheby's and Christies. (For an interesting look at the Sotheby's/Christies rivalry and histories, see the book, "Sotheby's: Bidding for Class" by Robert Lacey.) eBay launched eBay Premier in January 2001 to sell high-end arts, antiques and collectibles. The Wall Street Journal Online noted yesterday that, ''The joint venture of the two auction competitors is an acknowledgment that selling high-end art online has never worked for either [ company ],'' and that eBay's high-end business suffered during the economic slowdown.

Under the new deal, property posted on the Sotheby's-branded eBay site, due out in the summer, will come from Sotheby's and its network of dealers and regional auction houses around the world. In addition, selected eBay Premier dealers and Butterfields Auctioneers, a subsidiary of eBay Inc., will become sellers of arts, antiques and collectibles on the new site. Every item offered on is guaranteed by the seller for both authenticity and condition.

About the author:

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

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