eBay Steps Further into Art World

eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) said Monday that it has signed a deal with Artnet.com that will make Artnet’s fine art pricing database available to eBay Premier customers.

Under the deal, eBay Premier users will be able to access historical pricing data from the Artnet.com database about the objects for sale in the Fine Art category on eBay Premier.

The move is part of an ongoing effort by the Web auctioneer to create a “comprehensive” e-marketplace for fine art, said eBay Premier general manager Geoff Iddison.

Artnet.com’s database contains 2 million records from 1989 to the present, with historical price information on works by over 170,000 artists from the old masters to contemporary artists.

Art of the Deal

Earlier this month, eBay announced a new alliance with Eppraisals.com to give eBay users access to professional appraisers in the art and antiques categories.

eBay Premier was launched in January as both an online auction house for fine art and as a clearinghouse for live auctions at over 300 auction houses around the world. The service offers fine art, antiques and rare collectibles.

Thursday, in coordination with its real world auction arm, Butterfields, eBay will hold an anticipated auction of a series of nude Marilyn Monroe photographs.Bids are expected to be in excess of US$700,000 for the 1949 photo shoot, called the “Red Velvet” series.

Going Wide

In addition to stepping into the art world, eBay is expanding its presence worldwide.

In February, eBay signed an agreement to purchase European online auctioneer iBazar S.A. in an all-stock deal estimated to be worth up to $112 million.

When the deal is completed, eBay will have a presence in 14 countries — the UK, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden — in addition to its U.S. site.

Constant Evolution

In other news last week, eBay announced an alliance with Microsoft that will focus on the integration of eBay’s auction marketplace into selected Microsoft Web sites. In addition, under that deal, eBay agreed to use Microsoft’s Passport and .NET products.

eBay has also been updating its user policies. Since December, eBay has rolled out a new fee schedule, changed its policies on the sale of copyrighted works, and tightened rules on e-mails between buyers and sellers. The company has also revised its policy on offering extensions and credits to eBay users for unplanned outages.

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