Christie's vs. Sotheby's on YouTube

High-end art auctions at top houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s used to be ultra-exclusive affairs. But footage of these glam events where millions of dollars are paid for paintings, scultpures, photographs by masters are popping up on, of course, YouTube.

What’s interesting is how Christie’s and Sotheby’s are each represented on YouTube. Christie’s produces and posts rather elegant clips. They’re steadily filmed, and reflect a sense of sophistication. See this one, capturing a battle for a Mark Rothko canvas that fetched $34.2 million masterpiece (I have to include the link because Christie’s disabled the embedding function — perhaps a little too controlled a maneuver?). The Christie’s clips are a smooth as the auctioneer’s snazzy suit.

Sotheby’s, on the other hand, seems represented by user-generated content only: shaky, home-made clips, like this one:

While these possess the thrilling feel of sneaking into an auction, these homegrown, non-corporate-produced YouTube postings lack the sense of brand control of the Christie’s-produced videos. Yet they possess a sense of exclusivity…and provide lots of voyeuristic appeal.

But which is a better marketing tactic for an auction house — or any business looking to make an event public? To create a slick in-house video, or to leave it up to the public to do so?

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.