Amazon to sell Warhol and Dali in online venture

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol Works by US artist Andy Warhol are among those featured

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Amazon has begun selling works by artists such as Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali in an online marketplace.

Amazon Art is showcasing more than 40,000 works from more than 150 galleries in the US.

Works range from a $44 (£29) cat portrait to Norman Rockwell's Willie Gillis: Package from Home, being offered for sale at $4.85m (£3.12m).

Peter Faircy of Amazon Marketplace said the group was "excited" about the company's latest venture.

"We're thrilled to bring the excitement and emotional connection of art to our customers," he added.

"Amazon Art gives galleries a way to bring their passion and expertise about the artists they represent to our millions of customers."

Start Quote

The models for dealing in contemporary arts have evolved in this digital age”

End Quote Holden Luntz Gallery owner

Customers will have access to original and limited-edition art from US galleries including Paddle8 in New York, Holden Luntz in Miami, McLoughlin Gallery in San Francisco and Catherine Person Gallery in Seattle.

Featured artists on the site include Warhol, Dali, Marc Chagall and Damien Hirst.

'Demeaning'

Luntz said Amazon Art would help to add to his Florida gallery's existing customer base.

"We operate a wonderful fine art gallery, yet realise that the models for dealing in contemporary arts have evolved in this digital age," he said.

Jodie and Joshua Steen of LusterNYC in Brooklyn agreed. "I think we'll begin to see a whole new breed of art collector," they said.

Work by Marc Chagall The site has 37 artworks by the French painter Marc Chagall

"That's good for everyone - the galleries, artists and customers."

But one art critic does not concur with those sentiments, claiming Amazon Art would not change the way in which art is bought and sold, nor "broaden [its] reach".

"It's demeaning for a high end artist and also for those at the lower end," said Georgina Adam of the Financial Times and the Art Newspaper.

"A unique piece of art is more than just a product. It is a unique creation.

"I think the way it is sold in the Amazon way devalues it."

Garden furniture

Consumers can search the virtual site by subject, medium - a category that includes drawing, mixed media and prints - and artistic style.

Amazon said the it provides customers with "high quality" images and "detailed information" about each artwork.

There are currently 503 works available for less than $99 (£64) and 2,517 works valued at $10,000 (£6,500), though most of the works are priced somewhere in between.

Amazon started out as an online bookseller 19 years ago and now sells a host of goods, from toiletries to garden furniture.

It teamed up with Sotheby's in 1999 when it bought a £28m stake in the international art auction house. But their jointly operated site was short-lived, closing the following year.

Amazon Art will compete with more established retailers, capitalising on a market where increasing numbers of people are buying works they have only seen online.

On Monday Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced a $250m (£163m) purchase of The Washington Post and other assets from the Washington Post Company.

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