Auction Houses Battle for Internet Business

January 29, 1999

Auction Houses Battle for Internet Business

Following Sotheby's announcement that it will auction art and jewelry on its Web site, the auction house took steps to prevent its competitors from entering the game.

Sotheby's charter membership offer precludes dealers from dealing with any other Internet auction house. Many dealers told The New York Times they wouldn't sign Sotheby's 10-page contract because it restricts them from participating in a "free and open market."

Sotheby's investment in software to create "sophisticated auctions on the Internet" warrants the exclusive contract, Sotheby's Executive Vice President David Redden told Reuters. "What the dealers get is the ability to find clients."

The exclusive contract was released after rival Christie's announced it too would introduce auctions on the Web. Christie's plans to announce details of its Internet plans on March 1 when it moves into its new building in Rockefeller Plaza, New York City.

- by Stacey King