Sotheby’s and eBay Join Forces in Today’s Photography and New York Sales
The first sale of Sotheby’s new partnership with eBay kicked off this morning (see Picassos and Pez Dispensers? Sotheby’s and eBay Team Up Again), with a live feed of action on the auction floor streaming on the eBay website, allowing online bidders to place their bids in real time.
artnet News checked in on the still-ongoing action, and for the most part, eBay bids seemed to be a relative rarity, although we did spot an eBay user winning at least one heated battle. A 1956 Yousuf Karsh portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe that was expected to fetch $5,000–7,000 hammered down to the online purchaser at $27,500.
The sale includes 20th-century greats such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, as well as major early photographers such as Julia Cameron and William Henry Fox Talbot as well as contemporary artists such as Laurie Simmons and Nan Goldin.
Amid more modest price point (and a number of lots that failed to sell), big ticket items included “The Little Screens,” a collection of 38 Lee Friedlander photographs taken between 1961 and 1970 that sold for $850,000 on a $200,000–300,000 estimate. Richard Avedon’s 1957 portrait of Marilyn Monroe brought in $106,250, exceeding pre-sale expectations between $50,000 and $70,000.
Though artnet News was not so bold as to place a bid, the user interface on eBay appeared to be relatively easy to use, and the online bids did seem to be registering with the auctioneer nearly instantaneously, allowing the online platform to be seamlessly integrated into the traditional sale.
For better or for worse, the eBay partnership is a further sign of the changes that are afoot at the venerable auction house since it was forced to let activist investor Dan Loeb onto its board (see Dan Loeb Triumphs, Will Join Sotheby’s Board).
The company has already ousted CEO Bill Ruprecht (see Say Goodbye to the Rug Guy, Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht Pushed Out), and installed Madison Square Garden CEO Tad Smith in the top spot (see Sotheby’s Names Tad Smith as New CEO—He Was Former President and CEO of Madison Square Garden). The question remains if Loeb’s involvement will ultimately help or hinder the company (see Will Sotheby’s Again Fall Victim to Corporate Hubris With Dan Loeb, Tad Smith Takeover?).
For eBay, the Sotheby’s partnership is an expansion of its existing live art auction product (see eBay Launches Live Art Auctions This Week), which was relaunched in October and counts auction houses such as Swann Galleries, Doyle New York and Freeman’s as participants. (The online company’s first venture into live art auctions with Sotheby’s was back in 2002, but that short-lived venture was unsuccessful.)
In the initial announcement for the partnership, Sotheby’s planned to only stream day sessions, but this morning’s live-streamed Photographs sale will be followed by the New York Sale, which begins at 8:00 p.m. this evening. On offer are an assortment of photographs, paintings, and New York memorabilia and collectibles, including the giant Plexiglass and steel Yankee Stadium sign that adorned the team’s former home (see Reggie Jackson Is Selling the Giant Yankee Stadium Sign at Sotheby’s), an old-school Mets bullpen cart, and the lease to Andy Warhol’s first studio (see Lease for Andy Warhol’s First Studio Will Hit Auction Block on April 1).
For more artnet News coverage of the Sotheby’s eBay partnership see:
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