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Christie's scraps Net auction plan

Christie's, one of the world's oldest auction houses, is scaling back plans to build an online auction site.

Christie's, one of the world's oldest auction houses, is scaling back plans to build an online auction site, the company confirmed today.

Christie's, however, denied reports that the company had "abandoned plans" to auction online. Public relations director Andree Corroon said that Christie's will continue auctioning goods online but in conjunction with Christie's traditional auctions. Christie's previously disbanded the Internet Auctions division it created in May to develop an online auction site that would sell expensive collectibles.

"What we decided to do is integrate the Internet into Christie's core business," Corroon said. " We have decided to continue selling online except without creating a separate business."

Instead of a stand-alone Web site, Christie's will Webcast its live auctions beginning in the first half of next year, Corroon said. The company has installed 3D and zoom capabilities into the site so bidders will be able to view and examine merchandise.

Christie's reversal in strategy can be attributed to the high costs and legal liabilities associated with running a Web site, along with falling behind auction rival Sotheby's in online efforts, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In June, Sotheby's agreed to build a joint auction site with Amazon.com, apart from plans to build its own auction site. The joint site will offer collectibles and luxury items.

Reuters contributed to this report.