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Tuesday, February 16, 1999 Published at 17:06 GMT

Business: The Company File

Sotheby's signs up cyber dealers

Art lovers will be able to bid from their computers

Auction house Sotheby's has signed up 1,500 art dealers in the United States and Europe for its new Internet auction site.

The 'charter members' will sell art, antiques, books, jewellery and collectables over the Internet site at

Sotheby's expects to start holding Internet auctions in July.

Only professionals will be allowed to sell on the site, although anyone will be able to buy over the Internet.

Boom in e-commerce

Sotheby's announced in January that it was launching an Internet auction business, joining the flurry of companies rushing to capitalise on electronic commerce.

The company plans to make an initial investment of over $25m for personnel, marketing and capital costs for the Internet venture over the next 12 months.

Sotheby's will start with collective theme-based auctions and eventually move to rolling, ongoing sales in different categories with a cut-off date for bids.

The site will initially focus on goods with auction prices of $300-$10,000.

The company said last month that one of the first sales would be of baseball memorabilia from the collection of Barry Halper.

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