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Christie's online bidding a 2.8 mln dollar success

Written by: Staff
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NEW YORK, Oct 27 (Reuters) Christie's new real-time online bidding service has taken in 2.8 million dollarsin sales since its July launch, including more than 1 million dollars from its recent blockbuster sale of ''Star Trek'' memorabilia, the auction house said today.

''We are delighted with the smooth roll out of Christie's LIVE,'' Andy Foster, Christie's International Director and Christie's Americas Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement.

Some 1,700 people, nearly half of them new clients, from more than 45 countries have registered since the debut of Christie's LIVE, which allows Internet users virtual attendance at live auctions from home, office or other remote locations.

Auctioneers survey real-time online bids on monitors, while also fielding salesroom and telephone bidding for everything from contemporary art to furnishings and memorabilia.

Widespread, rapid acceptance of the technology allowed the service to extend across categories, Foster added, citing in particular the recent three-day ''Star Trek'' auction which raked in more than 7 million dollars in sales -- with some 1.1 million dollars coming from on-line bidders.

A forthcoming ten-fold increase in capacity will be able to accommodate ''thousands of bidders simultaneously on any given day,'' Foster said.

So far the service has been used for more than 40 auctions at locations in New York and South Kensington, London, with most of the activity in the New York salesroom. But its expansion is slated for Christie's' King Street, London, and Amsterdam operations by the end of 2006, and Paris in early 2007.

The top lot sold online was Syed Haider Raza's ''The Earth,'' a contemporary Indian painting that went for 8,000 in September to an Indian private collector. But it was October's ''Star Trek'' sale that provided the first large-scale test.

More than 500 people from 19 countries, virtually all of them new clients, signed up and won more than one-fourth of the 1,000 lots on offer while bidding on 97 per cent of them.

Upcoming sales of prints and wine, which traditionally see totals in excess of million, will use the live service, although the season's big guns of Impressionist and contemporary art will not.

REUTERS AB VV0925

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