In a bid to bring art to the digital age, Christie's is rolling out a new application to bring Impressionists to the iPhone.
The auction house, a purveyor of fine art, jewelry, wine, decorative objects and pop culture memorabilia, will begin reaching out to a global community of Apple mobile device users with a draw never envisioned by Picasso, let alone Monet or Renoir.
Virtual versions of Christie's catalogs, with high-quality images of lots on offer, and real-time sales results lead the new app's features. It also allows users to submit objects for appraisal by Christie's specialists using the iPhone's camera function.
Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices will be able to zoom in on and rotate any object on offer from some 450 auctions.
Eventually the auction house hopes to add a live-bidding component.
The free application will be available through Christies.com, via http://www.christies.com/on-the-go/iphone, the company's Facebook and Twitter audiences, and to iTunes App Store visitors. The official announcement of the application and its availability was set to be made on Wednesday.
The new application seeks to tap into the increasing reliance of the global auction world's clientele on mobile devices, said Michael O'Neal, Christie's director of digital media.
We hope to attract new clients but the goal is also to provide a convenient tool for current clients, should they be open to the technology, O'Neal said.
With sales figures from big-ticket art in steep decline, the auction houses are struggling to cut staff and slash expenses while developing new approaches.
A year ago Christie's began text-messaging clients about upcoming sales of potential interest and price updates during bidding.
Christie's LIVE, the company's 2-year-old real-time multimedia bidding arm, generated $82 million in online sales in 2008 and was responsible for more than one-third of the auction house's bid registrations. Some 11 percent of all lots sold came from online bids.
The Christie's App was developed in partnership with Kargo, an independent mobile media and technology partner that specializes in entertainment and information applications.