Sotheby’s--known for auctions--will stick to live auctions, the company announced this week. Sotheby’s had hosted an eBay online application at Sothebys.com, but as of May 1 will direct its dealers to use eBay.com Inc. for online auctions. Sotheby’s will continue to accept bids for live auctions at Sothebys.com. Such bids will be delivered to a Sotheby’s staffer monitoring computer bids at the auction location.
EBay, meanwhile, says it looks forward to absorbing Sotheby`s online auctions. EBay started in 1995 as a site for auctioning collectibles. Art, antiques and collectibles now account for $1 billion-plus in auctions annually. While the art-antiques-collectibles category is growing 18%, a year that`s relatively modest compared to other eBay categories such as cars and consumer electronics that have grown 35% or more. Now with dealers coming to eBay from Sothebys.com, eBay expects faster growth in the art-antiques-collectibles market.
Sotheby`s Holdings President and CEO Bill Buprecht said online auctions on Sothebys.com failed to generate a profit, but declined to provide more details or the value of online auctions Sotheby`s conducted. He said Sotheby`s will take a one-time restructuring charge in the range of $2-$3 million for discontinuing its online auctions.
Sotheby`s says the eBay Live Auctions technology has worked well in supporting its traditional auctions.