Auction houses, old and new, are being brought together. Sotheby's has today announced that it will be partnering with EBay to sell the art and collectibles for which it is famous.
EBay's platform currently boasts 145m active buyers in 190 countries, and collectibles accounted for $8bn of the site's gross merchandise volume in 2013.
While many of those online bargain hunters may not be Sotheby's target market, the auction houses hope that together they will make it easier for would be collectors to pick up antiques from Sotheby's New York HQ.
Real-time bidding will soon start on 18 collecting categories. The two companies then plan to expand and explore themed and time-based sales, as well as rolling out the partnership with Sotheby's other locations. EBay will be rolling out a newly-designed platform on its own site for collectors of the rare, unique, and premium items for which Sotheby's has been catering since 1744.
The record for an online purchase at a Sotheby's live auction was set this April, as John James Audubon’s elephant-folio The Birds of America fetched $3.5m, while the global art market as a whole is estimated at around $65bn. "The growth of the art market, new generation technology and our shared strengths make this the right time for this exciting new online opportunity," said Bruno Vinciguerra, Sotheby’s chief operating officer.