Here is Sotheby’s press release on the matter:
Today, eBay and Sotheby’s announced a partnership that will unite the global leader in online shopping with the iconic international art business and auctioneer. Together, they are developing an innovative online platform that will make it easier for millions of people worldwide to discover, browse and acquire exceptional works of art, antiques and collectibles.
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 and Sotheby’s will start by offering a number of live auctions that are taking place at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York. To accomplish this, eBay in the near future will be launching a newly-designed experience on its site, tailored for collectors of rare, unique and premium art and collectibles as well as first-time buyers. Sotheby’s will be the preeminent anchor tenant in the revamped marketplace, which will include a new live auction feature and real-time bidding from anywhere around the world.
The Sotheby’s auctions will present 18 collecting categories. Going forward, the partnership will explore themed and time-based sales, as well as live auctions from Sotheby’s other global salesrooms.
“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.
“We are joining with eBay to make our sales more accessible to the broadest possible audience around Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces, said, “A Sotheby’s-eBay partnership is a significant milestone in our efforts to expand the live auction market. Sotheby’s is one of the most respected names in the world. When you combine its inventory with eBay’s technology platform and global reach, we can give people access to the world’s finest, most inspiring items – anytime, anywhere and from any device. That is an experience we believe our customers will love.”
As technology evolves and mobile commerce becomes ubiquitous, collectors are increasingly purchasing high-end items online and even on-the-go from their mobile devices. Both companies will focus on growing the market at price points where they expect their collectors to converge in the future – particularly in the segments such as jewelry, watches, prints, wine, photographs and 20th design. The global art market is currently estimated around $65 billion, with annual online sales far below averages for other luxury goods*.
Projections show online art sales could reach $13 billion by 2020*.
“We believe there is a great opportunity, through this partnership, to truly make art more accessible to exponentially more collectors. That’s what makes this so exciting,” added Vinciguerra.
• Online bidders competed for 17% of the total lots offered in 2013
• John James Audubon’s elephant-folio The Birds of America sold in April 2014 for $3.5 million marking a new record for an online purchase in a live auction at Sotheby’s
• The number of lots purchased online in 2013 increased 36% vs. 2012
o More than half of all lots sold were in the $5,000-$100,000 range
o The average value for sold Watches was $41,753
o The average value for sold Prints was $27,575
o The average value for sold Books & Manuscripts was $18,484
• 32% of all BIDnow bidders had never transacted at Sotheby’s prior to 2013
• The number of visitors to sothebys.com on mobile devices (tablet + smartphone) doubled in 2013
• Mobile traffic now in 2014 accounts for 25% of total Sotheby’s website traffic
• Collectibles accounted for nearly $8 billion of GMV in 2013 with 36 million active buyers
• Each day on eBay, more than 3,500 auctions close with a price of >$5,000
• eBay has 145 million global active buyers in 190 countries
• 40% of eBay Volume is touched by mobile
• eBay enabled $20 billion in mobile commerce in 2013, up from $0 in 2008