The venerable auction house, Christie's, is to compete with eBay,, and with live auctions online.

The company is teaming up with an online bidding company to develop technology for real-time video and sound from the sale room.

One of Christie's major competitors, Sotheby's, had announced a join venture with, but abandoned the plan long ago. It has sold via eBay about four times a year, according to a spokeswoman.

"Christie's LIVE will allow us to bring to an unlimited online audience the finest property, and those bidders will be able to participate in real-time in the excitement of the live sale room", said Edward Dolman, Christie's Chief Executive Officer, in a statement to Reuters.

A spokesperson told Reuters that the online auction initiative was inspired by the broad availability of broadband, which generates speeds fast enough to allow for real-time bidding.