| HBS Case Collection
(Revised from original 2009 version)
Sotheby's & Christie's Inc.
The fine art auction business has remained a duopoly over its 250 year history. The industry is dominated by Sotheby's and Christie's Inc. Curiously, neither competitor has been able to overtake the other by a notable margin despite the clear network effects of this platform business. As we enter unprecedented economic times, as technology pushes forward infiltrating almost all areas of business, and as new competitors fight to enter the fine art sales space, these two auction houses explore modifications to their business model. Some efforts by the two organizations have already begun but are in the infantile stage and thus the success of these initiatives is entirely unproven. Sotheby's and Christie's must decide how to respond to this economic and cultural turning point and whether to keep investing in these ancillary aspects of their operations.
Market Entry and Exit;
Duopoly and Oligopoly;
Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon, and Catherine Jane Wise. "Sotheby's & Christie's Inc." Harvard Business School Case 710-412, March 2010. (Revised from original July 2009 version.)