Amazon's Next Move: Fine Art - Information portal

Amazon's Next Move: Fine Art

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03.07.2013 Количество просмотров 684 views
fine artThe online retail giant is planning to open a new section on its site as soon as July where it will offer one-of-a-kind paintings, prints and other fine art, according to interviews with a dozen gallery owners.

Amazon is set to debut the site with works from roughly 100 small galleries across the U.S., say gallery owners briefed on Amazon's plans. In recent weeks, the Seattle company has held cocktail receptions in its hometown, San Francisco, New York and other cities to invite galleries to take part in the new program.

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

Having conquered books and then electronics and other general merchandise, Amazon has lately been redoubling efforts to move into higher-end markets, seeking potentially higher margins. Late last year, it rolled out wine sales, a retail category it had tried twice before, and it has also been touting upscale fashion, including through subsidiaries such as

Amazon was among a flurry of sites selling art in the first Internet boom. In 2000, it backed away from a joint venture with auction house Sotheby's after 16 months when the effort failed to gain traction. Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. also retreated from several endeavors to sell paintings and other art on the Web, followed by startups like

"It'll always be difficult to sell art on the Internet," said Richard Feigen, owner of Richard L. Feigen and Co. gallery in New York. "Serious collectors want to see the art before they buy it — you don't have to see a book to buy it over the Internet." He said he wasn't approached by Amazon.

Gallery owners who were briefed on the plans said Amazon will charge a tiered commission based on an art piece's price, generally from 5% to 20%, with higher-priced works subject to lower commissions. It is charging wine sellers about a 15% commission, according to wineries involved in that program. Shipping logistics will fall to the galleries, and the art section won't be a part of Amazon's Prime two-day delivery program, said these gallery owners.

Nick Lawrence, owner of the Freight + Volume gallery in New York, said he had decided within the past month to list some paintings on Amazon's site after getting an unsolicited offer from the company. "I figured this would be a great way to reach a massive crowd," said Mr. Lawrence. "There are a lot of people who aren't necessarily going to be able to visit New York to buy art and maybe they can find something instead on Amazon."

Mr. Lawrence said he was also enticed by Amazon's offer of a free membership until 2015, when he said the company will start charging dealers about $100 per month to list their artwork.

Gail Gibson, owner of Seattle's G. Gibson Gallery, said she was taking a "wait and see" approach to Amazon's venture even though it meant missing out on the discounted monthly price.

"It seems a little too soon, I'll have to see what the site looks like, how easy it is to use," said Gibson. "With art, it has to be tasteful."

Amazon will face some competition from more-established art sales sites. Many gallerists said they use sites like Artsy and Artnet to sell their wares around the country.

Gallery owners said it wasn't immediately clear how Amazon plans to organize the site to help potential buyers find works they want to buy from lesser-known artists. Nor has Amazon explained to many dealers how they are expected to handle returns. Shipping art can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Source:  WSJ


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