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Christie's vs. Sotheby's on YouTube

Posted by: Reena Jana on November 28, 2007

High-end art auctions at top houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s used to be ultra-exclusive affairs. But footage of these glam events where millions of dollars are paid for paintings, scultpures, photographs by masters are popping up on, of course, YouTube.

What’s interesting is how Christie’s and Sotheby’s are each represented on YouTube. Christie’s produces and posts rather elegant clips. They’re steadily filmed, and reflect a sense of sophistication. See this one, capturing a battle for a Mark Rothko canvas that fetched $34.2 million masterpiece (I have to include the link because Christie’s disabled the embedding function — perhaps a little too controlled a maneuver?). The Christie’s clips are a smooth as the auctioneer’s snazzy suit.

Sotheby’s, on the other hand, seems represented by user-generated content only: shaky, home-made clips, like this one:

While these possess the thrilling feel of sneaking into an auction, these homegrown, non-corporate-produced YouTube postings lack the sense of brand control of the Christie’s-produced videos. Yet they possess a sense of exclusivity…and provide lots of voyeuristic appeal.

But which is a better marketing tactic for an auction house — or any business looking to make an event public? To create a slick in-house video, or to leave it up to the public to do so?

Reader Comments


November 29, 2007 1:17 PM

It should be fairly obvious from even the most cursory glance at the two videos and their YouTube postings that they are apples and oranges. The Christie's video was obviously professionally shot from a position with a clear view and posted by "Christiesauctions," while the "Sotheby's" video was just as obviously shot from within the crowd using a less robust camera (cell phone, perhaps?) and posted by "RoulinBrooks." The question of which is a better marketing tactic is moot, since Sotheby's obviously had nothing to do with that video. Interestingly, Sotheby's auctions can be viewed in real time on; not sure whether Christie's has such a service.


November 30, 2007 9:25 AM

...and some edits to the original post have negated the need for my comment. And your question remains: do these post-auction videos matter?

Reena Jana

November 30, 2007 10:11 AM

Thanks for the comment. I realize the language in the post didn't reflect my point accurately -- that a search on YouTube for Sotheby's auction videos turns up user-generated clips and not slick, in-house videos. Yes, I very clearly understood that the Sotheby's clip was not produced professionally; I had thought the use of the word "homegrown" indicated this. I hadn't meant to infer that Sotheby's produced these. So I clarified my points, thanks to Braine's reaction. Still, I do ask -- what's a better strategy for the auction houses, or any other company, for that matter: to produce a video and post it on YouTube, or to let the public do so?

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