Amazon drawing up plans for online art gallery

The online retail giant has reached out to gallery owners to offer works of art on the site, starting this summer, according to reports.

Mackenzie and Jeff Bezos at the 'Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City last year. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Amazon is developing a virtual art gallery that could give patrons an opportunity to buy expensive works of art online starting this summer, according to media reports.

The Art Newspaper reported Thursday that Amazon has reached out to "at least 125 galleries" with the goal of offering more than 1,000 art objects on its site. So far, according to one unnamed dealer, Amazon has lined up 109 galleries.

An Amazon spokesman declined comment, saying "We have not made any announcements about art."

Last month, another art Web site, GalleristNY, reported that Amazon has reached out to several art galleries in New York to discuss a project it was calling the "Amazon Fine Art Gallery." In a note to a gallery owner, the Gallerist reported, Amazon said it planned to launch the online gallery "this summer."

The Art Newspaper spoke with one unnamed dealer, who was told his gallery could offer art "under a pseudonym until the Web site became successful." The company also reportedly told dealers the gallery would have similarities to Amazon Wire, which offers wine directly from vineyards in the United States.

And rather than charging galleries a fee to sell their works on Amazon's site, the online giant will take a commission from each sale, ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent, according to the report.

Update, 1:35 p.m. PT: Adds Amazon comment.

About the author

Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).

 

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