Should everything deserve a second chance?

In July this year, eBay announced to start a partnership with noted auction house Sotheby’s to provide a new live auction format with real-time bidding on a various inventory of art, antiques and collectibles. Coming Thursday, eBay shall kick off the live auction site with other well-known auction houses like Doyle New York, Freeman’s, Garth’s Auction and Swann Auction Galleries.

With this new auction section on eBay’s website, buyers are able to browse catalogs for upcoming sales, bid for themselves at the online events or enter in absentee bids for those they cannot attend. eBay shared a schedule of auctions debuting this month and includes the art auctions extend beyond the top houses in New York. The company will soon begin offering live Sotheby’s auctions across various categories, which corresponds with events taking place at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York.

This new product will feature items priced from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000. The difference between the usual bidding system of eBay is that users can bid on items against others in real-time which simulates the feeling of a live auction. The reason to start this new real-time format is that eBay and gallery owners recognized the need of shoppers to buy high-priced items online, even without ever having to see and evaluate the items in person.

It is not the first time eBay starts with a comparable format; in 1999 the company unveiled a high-end online auction site to sell similar items. However, the auction site and the acquisition of an auction house failed and left eBay to shut down the site and to sell the auction house with loss in 2002.

So why bother to try the concept again? Well, eBay hopes that consumers attitude towards online buying has changed in the last decade. Unfortunately, live auction items are not (yet) available on all mobile devices. The company acknowledges the major role mobile bidding plays in the success of new eBay live auctions, but instead of working on that, the company advises users to go to on your tablet, desktop or laptop to join the real-time auction website. So what do you think; will it be successful this time for eBay?


Ina Steiner (2014), Déjà vu: eBay to Kick off Live Auctions on Thursday,, October 7, 2014.

Mike Isaac (2014), EBay Opens Fine Art Live-Auction Sites, for Second Time,, October 6, 2014.

Sarah Perez (2014), eBay To Host Live Art Auctions On New Site,, October 6, 2014.


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