Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

“Time based auctions are very much part of our longer-term strategy but in the short term are not” said a Christie’s spokesman last week.

Instead, after much research into the potential of e-commerce, they have decided to absorb their online business back into the mainstream company and concentrate on enhancing and expanding their existing interactive web-site christies.com.

This is a very different approach from that adopted by Sotheby’s who in June announced an alliance with e-commerce giants amazon.com to develop an online auction business. They are establishing two sites for online auctions sothebys.com and sothebys.amazon.com which – although originally scheduled to start this autumn – have yet to begin trading. Sotheby’s are now hoping to start online sales by the end of this year.

All staff from Christie’s disbanded Internet Auctions division have been reabsorbed into the existing company with the exception of two top officials who have left.

The aim, said a Christie’s spokesman last week, is to offer “one consolidated site to support the mainstream business.”

Features to be offered by their new enhanced site, which they hope to have up and running by early next year, will include lots online, a general catalogue of lots, 3D multi-media viewing capabilities, live ‘webcasts’ of sales, a lot finder service, bidding online in real time with the ability to register absentee bids, special departmental sub-sites, e-mail chat rooms for specialists, an online bookshop and access to Christie’s images.

“Everything short of selling objects,” added their spokesman.