Amazon.com Invests $45 Million in Sotheby's

June 18, 1999

Amazon.com Invests $45 Million in Sotheby's

In a move that accelerates the major auction houses' race to get on-line, Internet retail giant Amazon.com invested $45 million in Sotheby's Holdings Inc.

The companies formed a 10-year partnership they hope will give them an edge in the competitive world of on-line auctions. Amazon.com of Seattle, WA, which started as a bookseller and recently expanded into auctions, was looking for a "bricks-and-mortar" auction house to help it compete against eBay and other established on-line auction sites, according to Reuters. At the same time, Sotheby's sought an edge over rival Christie's, which announced it would start an auction Web site just after Sotheby's publicized its intentions to do the same.

Sotheby's and Amazon.com will launch an on-line service together at www.amazon.com/auctions that offers collectibles such as coins, stamps and Hollywood memorabilia as well as art and antiques to Amazon.com customers. Sotheby's and its exclusive network of dealers will provide all auction property.

The partnership is similar in nature to eBay's purchase of smaller auctioneer Butterfield & Butterfield in May. (Read related story.)

- by Stacey King