Amazon.com is quietly making plans to open an online art gallery in the very near future. The Art Newspaper first reported the story last week and spoke with a number of gallerists who had been approached by the retail giant. There have been rumors since May, when Amazon began setting up meetings in New York (they seem to be focusing on smaller, but established galleries). Amazon has yet to publicly comment on their plans.
The venture will be Amazon’s second attempt to get into the art market. In 1999, they partnered with Sotheby’s and then pulled out after 16 months. But, perhaps the timing is finally right—the New York Times quotes a recent insurance company survey of more than 200 collectors, which found that almost two-thirds had bought art online, without first seeing it in person, and that one-quarter of the collectors surveyed had spent $75,000 or more on works from online sellers or those they had seen only in JPEGs sent by galleries.
Some sources suggest that the Amazon gallery will open as early as this month. We’ll have to wait and see if the Basquiat qualifies for free shipping with that Amazon Prime membership.