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Armchair bidders to get first taste of Christie’s live online

Christie’s is about to launch a real-time online bidding system, allowing armchair buyers to bid with virtual paddles.

Christie’s Live will show its auctioneer at work at an evening wine sale in New York on 2 November.

Audio and video of sales will be streamed live to computers, and collectors will be able to raise virtual paddles on a rostrum screen by simply pressing a key.

This multimedia process inaugurates ‘a new era for the industry as well as its current and future clients,’ Christie’s declared.

While sharing the action in the Rockefeller Plaza salesroom, remote Internet users of Christie’s Live, with catalogs at their sides, will also compete against telephone and absentee bidders.

Rik Pike, a Christie’s spokesman in New York, said that in dry runs auctioneers have become adept at responding instantaneously to Teleprompter screens showing bids registered at the rostrum.

Christie softly launched the new system in July in London, focusing on lower-priced sales. It gets its first big test from 5-7 October with a sale of Star Trek memorabilia in New York.

Wine lovers need to download free, customized software from christies.com to take part in online bidding.

Bidders will be offered, among other trophies, a lot of nine imperials of 1982 Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, Margaux, Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Pétrus and Château d’Yquem; a double magnum of 1959 Lafite; and a case of 1978 Montrachet from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Morrell & Company has used real-time online bidding since 1998, but does not have streaming video. Acker Merrall & Condit, finding too little interest, gave up real-time online bidding after a trial early in the decade.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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