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Oct. 6, 2008 

Artnet launched its online art auctions back in March, and now, more than six months later, business is humming along at a respectable rate. Overall, Artnet Online Auctions have sold almost 600 lots for a total of more than $2.1 million. The top price was brought by Andy Warhol’s print $9, the multicolored grid of nine dollar signs printed in 1982, which sold for $130,000. In addition to Warhol, works by Takashi Murakami and Roy Lichtenstein are top sellers in terms of volume. At any one time, more than 200 lots are up for auction.

"Collectors and dealers enjoy logging onto the site and doing a little bidding," said print specialist Deborah Ripley, who is one of Artnet’s art experts managing the sales. "It’s fun for them." Artnet Online Auctions are fairly rapid affairs, bringing liquidity to the lower end of the market. "You consign something for ten days, and then get a check in the mail -- dealers like that," Ripley added.

Despite the lineup of blue-chip artists, many of the lots tend to hit bargain price points. David Hockney’s Serenade (from the "Blue Guitar" suite), printed in 1976 and illustrating a long poem written by Wallace Stevens, sold for $1,900. For this work, which Hockney used as the title plate for the suite of 20 prints, the artist drew a blue guitar in the style of Pablo Picasso, and wrote his name in the plate twice (as well as signing the print). "A great work, for a sweet price," said Ripley.

In photography, Artnet Online Auctions does especially well with contemporary art photography, but sales of classic photography are also active. A current gem is Berenice Abbott’s Portfolio (12): "New York III," a suite of a dozen gelatin silver prints published by Parasol Press in 1979. The suite of images focuses on icons of old New York, like a Bowery barber shop and a gasoline station in the Bronx. In mint condition, the portfolio carries a presale estimate of $48,000-$68,000.

Another classic photograph currently up for sale on Artnet Online Auctions is Edward S. CurtisSon of the Desert, Navaho from 1904, a platinum print that is both "rare and exquisite," according to Artnet photo expert Christopher Sweet. "Another Curtis photograph of Chief Joseph, comparable in size and quality to our Son of the Desert, sold recently at Sotheby’s for $169,000," noted Sweet. Artnet’s Curtis lot is estimated to go for $60,000-$90,000.

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