In June 1999, Jeff Bezos sat down with CNBC to announce a deal between Amazon and Sotheby’s to start a collectible bidding site. Within a few years, the failed venture would be seen as one of Amazon’s early mistakes as a company.
Amazon wasn’t always the e-commerce powerhouse it is today. In its early days, it was best known for being the online rival to bookstores like Barnes & Noble. While the world of online selling grew, Amazon made a deal to compete with bidding sites like eBay.
In 1999, Amazon and Sotheby’s struck a deal to sell antiques, collectibles and pieces of art online. Sotheby’s and Amazon would create two auction websites, one that would be accessed through Sotheby’s and the other that would be accessed through Amazon.
“Both companies are very hopeful that this would be a significant revenue stream, and we could build a significant business together,” Bezos said during one of his earliest interviews with CNBC.
But that deal didn’t go as planned. In 2000, Diana Brooks, the then CEO of Sotheby’s, pleaded guilty to price-fixing. Not long after, the deal between the two companies fell through leaving both Amazon and Sotheby’s to close up shop on their venture.