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Ever wanted to go to a high end auction house art sale?

Covid-19 has democratized the process as they now livestream their prominent sales and one starts at 9:00 AM EST live from London on Friday October 15, 2021. It’s 20th and 21st Century works presented on YouTube, and you can simultaneously chat with people from all over the world as they watch too. And you have those wonderful British accents to hypnotize you into dropping a few million on some dazzling piece of art.

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by Anonymousreply 1October 15, 2021 2:20 PM

I don't see what's new here except a new (and small) publicity campaign for something auction houses have been doing for years.

Liveauctioneers.com began in 2002, it and many other sites like it allow you to cross-search the catalogues of many auction houses around the world and, when the time comes, to bid live if you like and see it all livestreamed. It was a natural extension to incorporate livestreaming to online auctions which began in earnest in 1995 with eBay and other ventures.

Auction houses used to advertise sales in art and antiques trade journals and speciality periodicals and their catalogues were sold as bound volumes. It was an expensive process to produce and publicize and sell the catalogues (a large percentage were distributed by subscription) and the better auction house had many people engaged in client services, matching want lists to items coming up for sale. Everything required enormous lead time and bids required planning. Even telephone bidding required advance planning to have auction staff phone clients as the lots in which they were interested in bidding came up for sale.

The availability of online catalogues was the real breakthrough. Suddenly you could search the offerings of auction houses around the world without having to send a personal check for $35 for a catalogue that would arrive 10 days later only to see that there was nothing in the sale of any interest. With the internet searching online catalogues became increasingly easy as aggregator services listed offerings from hundreds and then thousands of auction houses. Suddenly you could find easily what used to take endless shoe leather and time and travel and money to locate. Interested in the paintings of a fairly obscure 17th C Italian painter whose works sell as often in the three figures and in the four? The internet made it all easy and allowed you to create a search alert. Find something you like and you can place an advance bid online, arrange for the auction house to call you when your lot comes to the auction block, or bid live online and watch it all.

If anything, Sotheby's and Christie's have been a little old fashioned about protecting the worth of their client services staff, but they've certainly done livestreamed auctions.

by Anonymousreply 1October 15, 2021 2:20 PM
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