Who hasn't gone shopping for a phone charger on Amazon and thought, "You know what I could really use? Claude Monet's L'Enfant a la tasse."
And now, thanks to the recently announced Amazon Art, you can buy it for $1.45 million. If Monet is not your thing, you can pick up works from the likes of Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, and Damien Hirst. Amazon users will be able to buy everything from $10 screen prints to an oil painting by Norman Rockwell for $4.85 million.
Overall, Amazon is offering more than 40,000 works of fine art from around 4,500 artists. The company tried something similar in 1999 in a partnership with Sotheby's, but it lasted only 16 months, paving the way for other fine-art e-retailers like Artsy, Artspace, and Artnet.
But Amazon is back, partnering with more than 150 galleries across the country, including Paddle8 in New York City and McLoughlin Gallery in San Francisco. It will take a 5 to 20 percent commission on each sale, reports The New York Times.
Amazon users, not accustomed to seeing million-dollar pieces of art for sale online, reacted with some snarky reviews of Monet's painting:
Funny, tongue-in-cheek reviews don't exactly create the upscale experience most millionaire art aficionados are used to. That will probably limit its appeal to high-end buyers, writes economist Tyler Cowen:
I expect the real business here to come in posters, lower quality lithographs, and screen prints, not fine art per se. And sold on a commodity basis. There is nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it will amount to much more aesthetic importance than say Amazon selling tennis balls or lawnmowers.
I've browsed the "above 10k" category and virtually all of it seems a) aesthetically absymal and b) drastically overpriced… Amazon wouldn't sell you a kitchen blender that doesn't work, or that was triple the appropriate cost, so why should they sully their good name by hawking art purchase mistakes? [Marginal Revolution]
On the lower end, however, Amazon's reach could expose a lot of people who don't live in major cities to new artists.
"It'll be another outlet for us to showcase our artists and get that wider range of people who are looking for art that would normally not come across into our building," Danny Sanchez, owner of Modernbook Gallery in San Francisco, told NPR. "They redefined online shopping and I think they have the ability to do that for this new kind of marketplace for art."