eBay Launching Live Auction Platform Catering to Art Auction Houses

Screen capture of an eBay auction for a Pablo Picasso print.

Later this year, eBay will launch a live auction platform for art and collectibles as part of a partnership with Invaluable, which provides the technology for live online auctions hosted by brick and mortar outfits, Gallerist reports.

According to eCommerce Bytes, this is eBay’s second attempt to launch a live auction model, as a similar platform shuttered for unknown reasons in 2009. User-authored guides to the old Live Auctions are still archived on the site, at least one calling live auctions “the best keep secret on eBay!

As in the original iteration, the live auctions will offer a number of related lots over the course of one day, rather than the separate listings drawn out over a number of days that have typically characterized the site’s sales. However, the new model will be seamlessly integrated into the main site, and will not have its own section or a special name. Live auction listings will come up alongside traditional eBay offerings and fixed price items in search results.

“I will say that we’re going to be working to replicate, to a large extent, the experience of actually being at the event, so when you’re engaging with an item on eBay you’re engaging with that one specific item, but then also see the upcoming lots too so it feels part of a single auction,” Gene Cook, eBay’s general manager of emerging verticals, told Gallerist.

In speaking with eCommerce, Cook said that the live auction market for art and collectibles is an $8 billion market—one that eBay can no longer continue to ignore. Auction houses such as Christie’s have seen increased online interaction from its bidders, and could very well make use of the new eBay platform in the near future.

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