Big players send online art sales soaring

As trust in internet art sites grows, novices and collectors are becoming more comfortable buying on the web.

Auction house Sotheby’s made a deal in July last year with eBay to provide live streaming of its auctions to reach the folks who regularly shop there. It provides a way for more people worldwide to access art and learn about the buying process.

EBay had tried to enter the art market before. In 1999, the company bought Butterfield Butterfield, one of the largest traditional auction houses, for $260 million, promising to use technology to bring fine art to the masses. It seems that experiment was premature.

Sotheby’s tried to sell on eBay in 2002, but failed to generate profits. Now, however, the scene has shifted and...

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