It has never been easy for the fine art community to sell their art online. Many have tried, and many have failed to make use of the new technologies that have been created in last 10-15 years. As early as 1999, eBay attempted to make use of the Internet to try and sell fine art when the purchased Butterfield & Butterfield (Goel). Butterfield & Butterfield was one of the largest traditional auction houses in America when eBay purchased them in 1999 (Hansell). This was one of the first instances in which an Internet company bought out it’s competitor (Hansell). This got the ball rolling for Internet shopping to change. Unfortunately for eBay, the online market for fine art was not something people were interested in. However, that trend is starting to change. It is estimated that about 6% of the $51 Billion of art sales from 2014, were done so using online sites (Goel). With the improvements to Internet technology, and companies now having big name people backing them up, fine art auction websites are now being able to offer full protection to the buyer, making them more inclined to buy art online.
Artsy, was one of the websites that has been doing online auctions. They typically see sales comfortable purchases on their website on pieces of art for prices about $5000, but sometimes going as high as $50,000 (Goel). This doesn’t seem like much, but as time has gone on, people are getting more and more comfortable purchasing art online. Artsy has over 300,000 pieces on their website, pulling from over 4,000 galleries (Goel). 1stdibs is another online retailer of fine arts, however they have expanded their operations to include jewelry and high quality furniture. They have over $51 million big-name backers that help them assure their costumers that if their purchase is not what they thought it was going to be, they will be refunded (Goel). This could have great implications to how all purchasing is done in the future.
Online shopping is starting to completely take over its counter part. Online shopping is perceived to be easier and cheaper in some instances. With big-name backers, any market can enter into the online market place, which will change the way consumers shop. As fine arts start to get a larger foothold in online shopping, the possibility for other markets, say home buying, increase. If people have the comfort of knowing that if they pay for something that isn’t what they thought they were buying, they will turn to shopping online more frequently. In future years, the housing market, or the automotive market may start be more and more heavily dominated by online shoppers. This could eliminate middle mans, such as realtors and car dealerships, thus making homes and cars cheaper, quicker and easier to buy. Online shopping is starting to dominate the market, and it is now expanding into other industries that most thought would be impossible to expand into.
Goel, Vindu. "Purchasing Fine Art Is Increasingly Just a Click Away." The New York
Times. The New York Times, 28 Oct. 2015.
Hansell, Saul. "Internet Auctioneer Ebay to Add Land-Based Rival." The New York
Times. The New York Times, 26 Apr. 1999. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.