Sotheby’s and Artsy to collaborate on online-only contemporary art auction

September 8, 2015

Happening late October 2015, the sale will feature a technology theme and incorporate an events program in San Francisco

Sotheby’s and Artsy are delighted to announce their collaboration on an online-only auction. The sale will be assembled utilizing Sotheby’s consignment expertise and relationships together with Artsy’s data-driven insights into collecting, presenting bidders with an exciting range of Contemporary works tailored to today’s interests and tastes. This sale represents the first major auction house offering works for sale on Artsy, the technology startup, and an unprecedented approach to sourcing consignments for Sotheby’s.

The time-based auction of Contemporary Art will focus exclusively on artworks responding to popular culture and daily life in a digital age. The timely theme of the creation and the sharing of images and information through digital platforms is a modern phenomenon that defines our everyday experiences. The sale, which is the first of its kind to be organized by Sotheby’s, will feature a range of emerging and established contemporary artists who explore painting, sculpture, photography, and video through innovative practices. Bidding will be open for several days and happen in real time through Artsy’s online auction technology via the Artsy website and iPhone and iPad apps, while being co-promoted on

“Sotheby’s is passionate about innovation, leveraging data and technology, and experimenting with new platforms and ways of growing our business,” said David Goodman, Sotheby’s EVP, Digital Development and Marketing. “We are excited to work together with like-minded leaders in this space, such as Artsy, using the intersection of art and technology to engage new audiences around the love of collecting.” 

“Artsy is building a comprehensive resource for our users to learn about and collect art, and an ecosystem that expands the global reach of our gallery, museum, and international art fair partners,” said Sebastian Cwilich, Artsy’s President and COO. “Bringing leading auction houses onto Artsy is a natural extension of our platform, and we’re very honored to partner with Sotheby’s, a 270-year-old brand and one of the world’s top art businesses that like Artsy is also committed to innovation and making art accessible to a wide audience.”

Sotheby’s and Artsy’s collaboration comes on the heels of a strong period of growth in online sales for both companies, including a recent $1.4 million sale made between a gallery in the UK and a collector in the United States as the result of an inquiry made through Artsy’s iPad app. Artsy’s first commercial auction, in partnership with Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA), achieved 100% sell-through with 85% of winning bids coming from Artsy collectors earlier this year. Artsy’s auction business and technology is built on the foundation of the 20 benefit auctions Artsy has hosted to date in support of its museum and nonprofit partners, which have helped raise over $14M for the arts, AIDS research and more. Sotheby’s has seen a substantial growth in online participation in just the first half of 2015. Collectors bidding online, across categories and global salesrooms, increased nearly 55% leading to a 35% increase in the value of successful bids. Clients are also increasingly confident in purchasing higher value items online, with Zao Wou Ki’s 5.5.60 selling to an online bidder for $3 million in Sotheby’s Paris this past June.


Artsy is the leading resource for learning about and collecting art from 3,500 leading galleries, 500 museums and institutions, 40 international art fairs and select auctions. Artsy provides free access via its website ( and iPhone and iPad apps to 300,000 images of art and architecture by 45,000 artists, which includes the world’s largest online database of contemporary art. Artsy’s encyclopedic database spans historical works, such as the Rosetta Stone and the Colosseum, to modern and contemporary works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Richard Serra, Lucien Smith, Sarah Lucas, and Cindy Sherman. Powered by The Art Genome Project, a classification system that maps the connections between artists and artworks, Artsy fosters new generations of art lovers, museum-goers, patrons, and collectors.

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