About Us | Recent Articles | December, 1997  
  The Art Newspaper ranks ArtNet
the #1 online art site

Excerpts from the Art Newspaper, December, 1997

ArtNet bills itself as the most comprehensive art site on the Web, and for once the inflated rhetoric holds some water. Since 1990 they have offered a unique service: for a fee viewers can access a database of more than 1.5 million works of art bought and sold at major US and European auction houses. It can be searched by artist, country, date of the work, date of sale, or price range. They also offer an auction-news fax service. ArtNet has expanded greatly to include hyperlinked sections on museums, galleries, and individual artists, all of whom are members of the service. An online magazine, edited by Walter Robinson, formerly of Art in America, combines reviews, gossip, and information about events in the art world. A valuable resource in all....

One of the most prominent group sites for the art market is ArtNet, run by former Hamburg art dealer Hans Neuendorf. The company claims a huge audience for its pages: 1.1 million "hits" each month. Galleries who want to join pay upwards of $1,000 for a year, which buys them space for basic text and twelve images. So far about 150 fine art businesses are online. Primarily representing American galleries dealing in contemporary art, but increasingly looking further afield, it offers a range of targeted services for buyers and sellers. Besides gallery information, facilities include exhibition listings and auction results - a database of sales over a period of ten years at 150 auction houses worldwide, available online at a fee ($19.95 per month for new members).

When this auction service was launched last year it sparked a debate in the American press about whether online price information, available to anyone who cared to look, would bring an end to the secrecy of backroom dealing, and the art world's clubby rituals. This, and the other online auction databases that are springing up, may be good news for collectors, but these still leave the question of whether a site can actually generate new sales for the galleries.

According to ArtNet spokesman, Ernest Johnson, "several" American galleries have sold art advertised on the pages, "for an amount that as a whole was very significant." Though it is difficult to quantify what makes an Internet sale - a buyer might see a work on the Web but is likely to want to view it at the gallery as well - this certainly does not sound like a stampede.

ArtNet: Group site for auction houses, galleries and independent artists (currently mostly American). Also features an auction results database of over 1.5 million sales over the past ten years which can be searched for a fee.

Costs: Homepage from around $2,000 per year with thirty images, or four exhibitions. (Different rates for some specialities - antiques, tribal art, etc., which start at $1,000). Auction database search costs $19.95 per month, unlimited usage.