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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK

Business: The Company File teams up with Sotheby's

Hi-tech hits the auction room

Modern technology and a piece of English history are joining forces with the announcement that Internet bookstore has bought a £28m stake in art auction house Sotheby's.

The Internet giant is to spread its online empire even further by creating an auction Web site with Sotheby's which began life, ironically as a book auction house, in London in 1744.

[ image: is challenging the Internet's leading online auctioneer eBay] is challenging the Internet's leading online auctioneer eBay
Now Sotheby's is an international company, with main offices in New York and London, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, while is one of the biggest Internet success stories.

The new web site, at, will put under the virtual hammer collectables such as coins, stamps, fashion and dolls as well as more general art works and antiques. The 10-year deal is worth £28m and the new site will be open for business later this year.

Guaranteeing authenticity

Founder and chief executive of Jeff Bezos said: "In the world of valuable objects a big problem has been authenticity. Who better to help solve that problem than Sotheby's?"

President and chief executive of Sotheby's Diana D Brooks added: " brings us the best online technology, the most superb customer service and the largest number of e-commerce customers in the world. We could not ask for a better Internet partner."

Online auctions have boomed over the last six months with many of the major Internet companies announcing auction services.

The Sotheby's deal heats up the battle between and the Internet's leading online auctioneer, eBay.

In April, eBay said it was buying a smaller, San Francisco auction house Butterfield & Butterfield Auctioneers for about $260m.

The partnership moves Sotheby's further into cyberspace.

Plans are already in the pipeline to launch Sotheby's own Web auction site, this autumn.

Following that announcement, rival Christie's International quickly announced plans to auction artwork, jewellery and collectibles Online.

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