By midday trading, Sotheby’s share price had risen over
20 per cent on the London Stock Exchange, following the article published by London newspaper The Independent over the weekend.
The rumored bid, which is being denied by eBay, follows allegations of price fixing
at Sotheby’s and the resignation of both the chairman
and chief executive officer.
Acquisition of Sotheby’s would be a great coup for
eBay (EBAY), founded in 1995 and already worth 16 times more
than the world’s most famous art auction house, which
started business 256 years ago.
Any successful move by eBay would affect Amazon.com’s
deal with Sotheby’s, which allocates a special channel
to the auctioneers.
Answering the rumors, eBay made a statement Monday maintaining that it is not interested in purchasing Sotheby’s.
“We’re not buying them. There’s absolutely nothing to these rumors,” said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove
said after speaking to chief executive Meg Whitman.
eBay has recently been building up its fine art and antiques
section, hiring Kathleen Guzman, a former president of
auctioneers Phillips, to look after business development
at eBay Great Collections.
British art critic Brian Sewell hit out last week at
those who have been fueling the Sotheby’s scandal,
calling them “mangy curs” who are weakening the auction
house and making it vulnerable to predators.
Sotheby’s stands accused of colluding with rival
house Christie’s, which has now agreed to co-operate
with a U.S. investigation in exchange for immunity.