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Sotheby’s to auction fine wine via eBay

Online auction site eBay is going more upmarket after signing a deal to partner with Sotheby's to sell a range of collector's items, including fine and rare wine.

Sotheby’s and eBay will begin their partnership with a series of live auctions based out of Sotheby’s New York headquarters, the two companies said today. No timescale was given.

Sotheby’s said the deal covers 18 ‘collectables’ categories. Although fine art will be a key focus, a spokesperson for the auction house confirmed to Decanter.com that wine is one of the categories involved.

The deal will help eBay to offer more luxury items and hands Sotheby’s a stronger foothold in online auction sales.

There are 145m active buyers on eBay. The group already sells some fine wines, although there are several restrictions in the US due to states’ divergent laws on direct shipping and a law banning the US Postal Service from shipping alcoholic drinks.

The most expensive bottle for sale on eBay at the time of writing was a six-litre ‘imperiale’ of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1988 from Cult Wines, priced at $9,500.

Online bidders competed for 17% of lots sold by Sotheby’s across all categories in 2013. Bidding online has proved particularly popular in wine, allowing wealthy collectors in Asia to vie for wines up for auction in London and New York.

Denis Wenig, president of eBay Marketplace, said, ‘When you combine [Sotheby’s] inventory with eBay’s technology platform and global reach, we can give people access to the world’s finest items any time, anywhere and from any device.’

As part of the deal, eBay will launch a ‘newly designed experience’ on its website that will have Sotheby’s as the ‘pre-eminent anchor tenant’.

Written by Chris Mercer

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