Auctions at Sotheby’s New York are to be streamed live on eBay, it has been announced.The first auction on the new platform will have a New York theme, with Yankee Stadium memorabilia on sale.
It will take place on 1 April and will include the giant letters from the New York baseball stadium, which could fetch up to $600,000 (£406,500).
However, evening sales of high-value artworks and other specialist items will not be included, Sotheby’s said.
The auctions will be streamed on a new eBay platform: ebay.com/sothebys. The first will include photographs, alongside the baseball memorabilia from the famous player Reggie Jackson, who won the World Series five times.
“What this partnership is about is leveraging eBay’s audience and ability to target that audience and find clients that have the means to participate in a Sotheby’s auction,” Josh Pullan, senior vice-president, director of e-commerce at Sotheby’s, said.
One of the lots available is Andy Warhol’s first studio lease, which it is estimated will sell for between $8,000 and $12,000.
“Official City of New York, Department of Real Estate lease, printed on blue paper, annotated and signed by Andy Warhol and Don Schrader as witness,” reads the description.
The lot with the highest estimate was number 17: Frederic Auguste Bartholdi’s clay design model for the Statue of Liberty, which he presented for approval. It was expected to sell for as much as $1.2m.
Sotheby’s and its rival Christie’s already conduct online art sales. But the link with eBay will bring the auctioneer’s inventory to a potential new audience of more than 155 million active users worldwide.
Online sales of art and antiques are estimated to have reached $3.5bn, equivalent to around 6% of global sales in 2014, according to a report commissioned by the Netherlands-based European Fine Art Foundation.
The majority of online sales, it added, were in the $1,000 to $50,000 range.
While the partnership is between Sotheby’s New York and eBay, it will also be available to bidders outside the US. Most auctions will be streamed on the platform, except for high-priced sales of contemporary, modern and Impressionist art.
It was made available for browsing and advance bidding immediately, the companies said in a joint statement.
Sotheby’s has seen a nearly 25% rise in online bidding in 2014 over the previous year. In an auction of Picasso Ceramics, 75% of the lots offered attracted online bids.
The online version was designed to emulate the auction catalogue in a digital format and to replicate the experience of seeing art in a museum before taking bidders to the live auction where they could bid in real time, the companies said.
Megan Ford, director, emerging verticals and live auctions at eBay, said technology is changing and people have become more comfortable purchasing high-ticket items online in the past few years.
The premier tier of inventory for art and collectables, she added, was previously only available in the live-sale format at auction houses.