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Sotheby's To Bring Famous Collections to Web

International auction house Sotheby's Tuesday announced plans to launch a new Internet auction site focusing on art, antiques, jewelry and collectibles.

Diana Brooks, Sotheby's president and chief executive officer, said the site's launch signals a new era for the company. She said the Internet unit will not only draw on property from its existing business but will also feature items from a variety of art dealers and other experts.

"It is clear that the Internet is superbly suited for holding auctions and it is equally clear that it offers great possibilities for Sotheby's. This is a time of great opportunity for Sotheby's and a time of great change," she said.

Sotheby's plans to invest more than $25 million initially to develop the venture. The company has also dedicated a significant portion of its core auction staff to work on the effort.

The company named Susan Solomon, formerly president and chief executive officer of Sony Worldwide Networks, as the new worldwide chief executive for sotheby's.com. She will also become executive vice president of Sotheby's Holdings.

Sotheby's is planning a major auction of baseball memorabilia this summer. A significant portion of the collection will be sold online.

Brooks said Sotheby's expects big things from the Internet.

"We are committed to delivering to our Internet auctions the same experience and expertise that have characterized our live auctions in our more than 250-year history and we are confident that our brand will translate well to the dynamic new marketplace of the Internet," she said.

Tuesday's announcement is the latest in a new trend of targeting affluent online users. Last week, Millionaire.com, a specialty retailer targeting affluent shoppers, acquired The Great Gatsby's Auction Gallery, one of the largest collections of antiques, collectibles and architectural reproductions in the country.