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eBay (EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report is finding that sellers of high-end antiques don't mix well with buyers of Beanie Babies.

The online auction site on Tuesday announced that it and partner


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will soon cease hosting online auctions through their joint site. Instead, Sotheby's will focus its online efforts on providing remote bidders access to its live auctions via eBay technology.

The closure of online auctions at marks the latest setback for both companies in their attempts to sell chichi collectibles online. The failure demonstrates that while eBay's business model might be flexible enough to facilitate sales of everything from Pez dispensers to Pontiacs, it has its limits.

The eBay-Sotheby's deal was "doomed from the beginning," said Carrie Johnson, an online commerce analyst at Forrester Research. High-end bidders aren't pushing to change how they buy art and antiques, Johnson said. Part of what they pay for is the experience of physically attending an auction, seeing the merchandise in person and raising their paddle to bid, she said.

"That just cannot be replaced online," Johnson said.

eBay and Sotheby's launched their joint Web site last June after announcing it in January 2002. As part of their agreement, Sotheby's closed down its own self-run auction site and eBay shut down eBay Premier, an earlier effort to reach high-end bidders.

Sotheby's has sold some notable items through its online-only sales, such as a first printing of the Declaration of Independence, said Patty Fox, a company spokeswoman. But the company decided to shut down online bidding at because of disappointing sales, she said.

"It just didn't reach a level of sales to reach a profit for Sotheby's," she said.

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eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment about the closure of

Both companies have struggled with their efforts to sell high-end art and antiques online. The closure of online-only auctions through marks the second failed attempt by eBay to team up with a traditional auction house. The San Jose, Calif.-based company bought the Butterfield & Butterfield auction house in 1999 to jump-start its high-end auctions, then sold the company last year after its offline sales plummeted.

Meanwhile, Sotheby's previously attempted to sell high-end collectibles online through its own Web site and through a joint site with

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. Sotheby's shut down its Amazon site in 2000, one year into what was originally planned to be a 10-year deal.

In its statement, eBay did not say if it would replace with another high-end auction site, when the companies shut down the site's online auctions in May. was eBay's third attempt at creating an online marketplace for high-end collectibles. eBay Premier, which was replaced by, had itself replaced eBay Great Collections.

eBay users sold more than $1 billion in art, antiques and collectibles last year, said Geoff Iddison, general manager of eBay's collectibles department, in the statement. But Iddison did not say how much of that was sold through eBay has its own art, antiques and collectibles listings that are separate from

Indeed, Sotheby's has sold only about $135 million worth of art and antiques online since 1999, Fox said. To be sure, eBay and Sotheby's allow other auction houses to sell through the site.

The shutdown of online auctions on shouldn't have a "noticeable" affect on eBay's revenue or earnings, said Safa Rashtchy, an analyst with U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray.

Sotheby's will take a $2 million to $3 million restructuring charge in the first quarter due to the closure of online auctions at, the company said. Fox did not know how many employees would be laid off as part of the restructuring.