A new auction from e-commerce giant eBay and multinational art, jewelry and collectibles broker Sotheby’s kicked off on Wednesday, a new experience that will allow art collectors and aficionados to purchase coveted photographs or pieces of art from anywhere at any time -- as long as they have an Internet connection. The auctions include photographs and a separate sale that features sculptures, paintings, prints and more.
The first series of auctions from the joint venture included photographs from the 19th century to the modern era. Available works include deceased photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s photo “Song of the Sky and Trees,” which sold for $8,000. eBay listed 188 photographs for sale, and though a small minority of the items did not sell, most were purchased for above the asking value. A photograph by deceased English photographer Eadward Muybride went for $60,000, or $25,000 above the seller's estimate.
A second sale will be held on April 16. The auction will include European silver, Vertu and Russian artworks. On April 18, an auction will include private collections. Photograph prices ranged anywhere from $7,000 to $70,000. The auctions feature high-resolution images, videos, live streaming audio and video and a “museum view.”
This isn’t the first time eBay and Sotheby’s have attempted a joint venture. It's the fifth time the two companies have tried to work together, the first in 2002 when Sotheby’s announced it would post its high-end products on eBay. Sotheby’s even hired nearly 200 staff members to work on the project, though by 2003, the venture was considered a failure. The partnership ended in May of 2003.
“By coming together, eBay and Sotheby’s, leaders in their respective industries, are creating new opportunities for a generation of shoppers that is increasingly interested in art and comfortable spending larger sums online, or even through their mobile phones,” eBay said in a blog post regarding the partnership in July.
Currently, eBay has approximately 155 million customers globally, and gaining access to that consumer base could prove beneficial to Sothebys -- providing the partnership lasts.