Sotheby's and eBay team up to bring art auctions to the web

Auction house Sotheby's and internet shopping giant eBay have partnered up to bring Sotheby's auctions to the digital world.

Beginning next month, a new eBay platform will stream Sotheby's New York auctions live.

The new live auctions platform - ebay.com/sothebys - that launches on Tuesday pairs Sotheby's 270 years of experience selling art and antiques with eBay's digital expertise and 155 million active users worldwide to meet the demand for online bidding, Reuters reports.

The first auctions on the platform will begin on April 1 with photographs and a themed New York sale that will include the 13 letters of the 1970s Yankee Stadium sign that could fetch up to $600,000 (£406,700) from the collection of baseball great Reggie Jackson.

"What this partnership is about is leveraging eBay's audience and ability to target that audience and find clients that have the means to participate in a Sotheby's auction," Josh Pullan, senior vice president, director of e-commerce at Sotheby's, said.

Online sales of art and antiques are estimated to have reached $3.5 billion (£2.3 billion), or about six per cent of global sales in 2014, according to a report commissioned by the Netherlands-based European Fine Art Foundation.

The majority of online sales, it added, was in the $1,000 (£600) to $50,000 (£33,800) range.

The platform includes photographs, commentary and audio/ video components. It is designed to emulate the auction catalogue in a digital format and to replicate the experience of seeing art in a museum before taking bidders to the live auction where they can bid in real time.

Megan Ford, director, emerging verticals and live auctions at eBay, said technology is changing and people have become more comfortable purchasing high-ticket items online in the past few years.