In a press release issued today, the two corporations announced their intentions to bring Sotheby's high-class auctions to the masses by expanding its live auctions to online bidders.
"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, in today's press release. "We are joining with eBay to make our sales more accessible to the broadest possible audience around the world."
While Sotheby's brings its exclusivity and high-class clientele, eBay complements the company with its advanced online network of 145 million international active buyers. Sotheby's estimates the global art market value at around $65 billion, with current online sales "far below averages for other luxury goods."
With a 36% annual jump in items sold online for Sotheby's from 2012 to 2013 and a projected $13 billion in online sales by 2020, it's easy to why Sotheby's is so eager to expand into eBay's embrace. And while eBay is no luxury art market, a sizable 36 million of its buyers coughed up for "collectibles" in 2013 for nearly $8 billion in total sales. Sotheby's said in 2013 its average value for sold watches was $41,753 while the average value for books and manuscripts was $18,484.
eBay said it will soon launch a "newly-designed experience" on its site that is "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 ..." The companies say they will focus on segments such as jewelry, watches, prints, wine, photographs, and 20th Century design.