They are both giants in the auction industry but ones with vastly different traditions, not to mention different ways of doing business.
As part of the deal, eBay will launch new functions on its site that are tailored for art collectors and that will feature Sotheby's as a prime content provider. The companies said that the enhanced marketplace will feature real-time bidding.
The companies touted each other's experience and expertise on Monday, saying in an announcement that Sotheby's brings "historic auction experience" while eBay brings "unrivaled skill in attracting online collectors."
Sotheby's will be offering 18 collecting categories on eBay, though no evening sales from the auction house will be included. (Evening sales often attract big-ticket buyers interested in major works of art.) The companies didn't specify the categories, but they said that they will focus on markets where they expect their collectors to converge — such as jewelry, watches, prints, wine, photographs and 20th century design.
The partnership isn't the first time that Sotheby's and eBay have joined forces. In 2002, they announced a partnership to bring more auctions online, but the deal was short-lived, according to the New York Times.
Sotheby's has in recent months come under attack from Daniel Loeb, the Third Point hedge-fund manager, who has criticized the company and called for the ouster of Chief Executive William Ruprecht.
Earlier this year, Loeb gained three seats on the Sotheby's board of directors.