NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- This past weekend, Sotheby's (NYSE: BID) successfully conducted the first live auction on its new online bidding platform. The sale opened with two weeks of competitive online bidding before culminating in a live auction event held at Sotheby's New York headquarters on February 2nd. The auction featured paintings and decorative works of art – ranging from Old Masters and the Impressionists, to 18th and 19th Century continental furniture, and Asian art – and totaled $5.2 million, exceeding expectations and with an 84% sell-through rate. Conducted and recorded by the auctioneers digitally, the sale was also Sotheby's first paperless auction.
"With this new platform, we have successfully used technology to marry the virtue of an online-only auction with a paperless live auction, ensuring that the preferences of all bidders can be met in a single event", said David Goodman, Sotheby's Executive Vice President for Digital Development and Marketing, adding, "And for our consignors, we have the ability to offer their items more exposure, and to use the data points from the time-based sale period to drive maximum interest as we transition to a live auction."
Sotheby's new online bidding platform was launched in a test version early last year and scaled up across Sotheby's calendar of Online-Only auctions over the course of 2018. In December, the technology and experience for a live auction was successfully piloted for a sale of Wine. Features of the new platform include mobile bidding and payment through the Sotheby's app, as well from a web browser, simplifying the process of registration, bidding, and payment for participants.
The February 2nd auction – The Gilded Age: Property from a Distinguished American Collection – was the final sale in Sotheby's Masters Week auction series. Online bidding for the 197 items in the collection, which spanned at least seven collecting categories, opened on January 18th, allowing participants to submit competitive bids online for two weeks prior to the live auction. Prior to the opening of the live auction, 35% of the lots had received bids placed online from 21 different countries at levels ensuring they would sell. Combined with other methods of pre-registration, potential bidders had expressed interest in 72% of the lots before the February 2nd live auction.
During the auction, Sotheby's auctioneers opened bidding for each lot with the highest online bid placed over the previous days. Online bidding was the preferred method of engagement throughout the sale, with 53% of participants bidding online, followed by 42% on the telephone and 5% bidding in the room. Over the course of the auction, 77% of all lots received multiple bids, resulting in 74% of the sold lots achieving final prices at or above pre-sale expectations.
In 2018, Sotheby's sales to online bidders totaled more than $200 million, a 14% increase compared to the prior year, and with 26% of all lots sold over the course of the year purchased online. On the sourcing side, Sotheby's new online consignment tool drove consignments to 175 different auctions resulting in more than $55 million in 2018 sales – with 88% of those clients completely new to Sotheby's – compared to $7.3 million in sales in 2017.
Sotheby's has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby's became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby's presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, and Sotheby's BidNow program allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. Sotheby's offers collectors the resources of Sotheby's Financial Services, the world's only full-service art financing company, as well as the collection, artist, estate & foundation advisory services of its subsidiary, Art Agency, Partners. Sotheby's presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby's Global Fine Art Division, and three retail businesses: Sotheby's Wine, Sotheby's Diamonds, and Sotheby's Home, the online marketplace for interior design. Sotheby's has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID).
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