The brand alliance will kick off with live auctions streamed from Sotheby’s New York headquarters, with consumers able to make real-time bids from anywhere across the globe.
Sotheby’s chief operating officer Bruno Vinciguerra said that the auction house aimed to reach the "broadest possible audience around the world" as a result of the deal. Sotheby’s seeks to build on its 36% growth in online sales during 2013, when online shoppers bid for 17% of total lots.
Although no date has been set for its launch, Sotheby’s said that in the autumn, initially 18 product categories would be covered by the agreement, including 20th century design, watches, jewellery, prints, wine and photographs.
The deal marks the 270-year-old auction house's attempt to play catch-up with rival Christie’s, which is more active in online sales. Sotheby’s has made online brand alliances in the past, which have failed to take off. In 2000, a short-lived deal with Amazon came to an end.
The brand tie-up marks an interesting development in the coming together of online and offline retail, merging old-school with new-school.
EBay is set to reveal its earnings on Wednesday, while last year Amazon announced that it would sell works by artist including Salvador Dali on its website.