April 27, 1999
eBay Buys Butterfield & Butterfield
A pioneer in the world of Internet auctions, eBay, yesterday announced it would acquire Butterfield & Butterfield, the San Francisco-based auction house whose offerings include high-priced jewelry sales.
Consignments to Butterfield & Butterfield, including fine art, furniture and collectibles as well as jewelry, will now be offered on-line, "allowing eBay members unprecedented access to many of the world's outstanding collections," says eBay President and CEO Meg Whitman in a release. Butterfield & Butterfield was one of the first major auction houses to take its auctions on-line, working with a local company until about three weeks ago when it agreed to work with eBay.
eBay will benefit from the expertise of Butterfield & Butterfield's specialists, trained in authentication and appraisal of art and jewelry, Whitman says. eBay's Web site (www.ebay.com) currently allows people to post descriptions and pictures of the items they wish to sell, then take "bids" over several days.
The deal is a reflection of the major auction houses' current scramble to establish an on-line presence. In January Sotheby's and Christie's both announced intentions to start selling goods on the Internet, starting a feud in which Sotheby's sought exclusivity from dealers. (Read story.)
- by Stacey King