Auction houses look set to become a lucrative target market for Web designers, following Sotheby’s decision to start an Internet auction business.
Sotheby’s New York branch is currently putting together the sothebys.com site, which will be launched this summer with an auction of baseball memorabilia. A spokesman for the auction house declined to comment on the identity of design groups working on the project.
Sotheby’s, the oldest auction house in the world, has been researching the concept of on-line auctions over the past eight months and held a part-live, part- Internet auction of books and manuscripts last July.
Rival Christie’s is also looking at a move to on-line auctions in addition to live auctions. It is developing a strategy to decide on appropriate collecting categories for on-line transactions such as “multiples” of wine, stamps, and coins.
“Christie’s is seeking the optimal balance for its clients between selling works of art through traditional methods and selling on-line,” says a Christie’s spokesman in response to last week’s announcement by Sotheby’s.
Meanwhile, Bonham’s is also considering putting its catalogues on the Web and looking at whether to include an Internet bidding service to rival those of Sotheby’s and Christie’s.