Amazon Art building volume – but quality and sales uncertain

According to the New York Times, Amazon Art is building volume in terms of galleries signing up to their art sales ‘marketplace’ but sales remain unreported.

Figures quoted by the Times show:

  • More than 180 galleries have signed up
  • 43,000 two-dimensional works from 4,500 artists are offered for sale
  • Prices range from $10 to $5m
  • 95% of works are less than $10,000; one third of those are between $250 and $1,000

The numbers indicate that Amazon is indeed chasing the lower end of the market, adding a few star items mostly for PR purposes. Amazon gets to pocket from 20% to 5% commission depending on sales price. Amazon is not revealing sales volume, and is unlikely to. However, a strategy of high volume, low percentage commission fits with the usual Amazon ‘pile them high, sell them cheap’ business model.

Amazon’s foray into art sales has received at best a lukewarm reception. The New York Times piece references a blistering critique by Tyler Cowen of the quality of art for sale via Amazon Art.  Confirming recent criticism by Rebecca Wilson, Chief Curator of Saatchi Online, the Times quotes Amazon’s Peter Faricy: “We are not doing any curation,” adding “We look to the galleries for that.”


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