The Future of Online Art Sales: Q&A With Artnet Director Hans Neuendorf – artmarketblog.com
The number of websites that facilitate the online sale and purchase of fine art has increased significantly over the last few years as collectors and investors become more confident in the ability of online art sales portals to provide a sufficiently high level of service, quality art, security and peace of mind.
High-end online art sales portals such as Blacklots, Artnet Auctions, Christie’s, Paddle 8, Saffron Art and Artprice Auctions have emerged as leaders of the online art market due mainly to the reputation and influence of the people involved in the development of these websites.
In this series of interviews, Nicholas Forrest, owner of the Art Market Blog, talks to some of the most influential leaders of the online art market about the future of online art sales and the development of the online art market. In this, the third interview of the series, Hans Neuendorf, CEO of artnet AG, discusses the Artnet auction model and the state of the market for online art sales.
CEO of artnet AG
Hans Neuendorf is regarded as one of the most successful art dealers in the world. Already in the 1960s, he had a feel for the spirit of the age, and presented many modern masters at the beginning of their careers, including Georg Baselitz, Lucio Fontana, David Hockney, and Cy Twombly. The first Andy Warhol exhibition in Germany was held at his gallery. In 1967 he was one of the founders of the first international art exhibition, Art Cologne. The aim of the exhibition was to gather geographically-separated dealers and galleries in one place, and to provide an overview of the available works on the global art market.
With his experience, Hans Neuendorf has been shaping artnet AG since 1990, becoming its main shareholder in 1992 before being appointed CEO of the Company in 1995. In 2006, Hans Neuendorf was awarded the Medal of Honor for Visual Arts by the National Arts Club in New York, in honor of his services to the international art market.
1. Has the online market for fine art matured to a point where stand-alone ventures relying on the sale of online art are a viable option?
Definitely! The artnet auctions have reached the break-even point after only 3 years.
2. How would you rate your success?
Very encouraging! Strong growth!
3. What has been the most significant sale for you to date?
A flower painting by Andy Warhol sold last fall for $ 1.3 million.
4. We already have online art fairs, galleries and auctions; what is the next step for online art sales?
The online activities will continue to grow and become commonplace within a short period of time.
5. How does you attract and keep online buyers of fine art?
Artnet has relationships with galleries and collectors worldwide because of a multitude of information services that artnet is offering to the art market participants. That is the basis of our auction business.
6. What are the characteristics of the main buyers of fine art online?
Many are new buyers, unfamiliar to galleries and conventional auction houses or without easy access to them. They are also geographically widely distributed.
7. Which countries are the most active with regards to buying art online?
US customers are leading the list. The distribution is not unlike the conventional market as might be expected.
8. How would you describe the current environment for online art sales
9. Which mediums are the most popular with online art buyers?
Photography is big and so are fine prints but original works are gaining ground fast.
10. How does your company best take advantage of the online market for fine art?
Artnet emphasizes customer service and our specialists are available on the phone. This is not a hands free Internet business but is built on trust based on personal relationships with repeat customers and expertise.
11. What are your plans for the future?
Continued growth and further expansion into the high end market.
12. Anything else you would like to add?
Turnaround at artnet online auctions is only 5 weeks compared to 5 months in conventional auctions and the cost is only half!
According to Hans:
“On July 21 2011, we recorded a record price of USD 1,322,500 (including purchaser’s premium) when Andy Warhol’s Flowers was auctioned on artnet’s platform. That is the highest price ever recorded for a picture from the Flowers series, and is also the best ever price for one of artnet’s Online-Fine- Art auctions.
After Warhol, we were able to enjoy additional successes with prominent representatives of contemporary art, including John Chamberlain, Nam June Paik and Yang Shaobin. We will consistently continue this series of auctions with major artists in 2012. Both the number of bidders at auctions and also visitors to our home page recently broke new records. artnet has long been a port of call for professionals and specialists in the art business. Now it is a platform for a broad audience interested in art and artists. As a result, we are opening up not only artnet, but also the entire art market to new target groups. All age groups, all levels of education, and people from all of the world now have access to art—without any fear of contact, resentment or restrictions on access. artnet offers art for everyone”
**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer. He is the founder of the Art Market Blog (artmarketblog.com) which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others. Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.
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