Sotheby’s announced today the launch of a new online platform called Sotheby’s Gallery Network. The network is a “buy-now” platform in partnership with a number of the best-known contemporary art dealers. The platform combines art work from eight galleries, including Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Lehmann Maupin, Jack Shainman Gallery, Kasmin, Sperone Westwater, and Van Doren Waxter. The new format will make works by the dealer’s rosters of emerging and established artists available to collectors for immediate purchase with pricing made public.
Works valued up to $150,000 will be available to purchase immediately on Sotheby’s Gallery Network. For works above that price point, prospective buyers will be connected directly with Sotheby’s sales staff.
One of the impacts of the coronavirus has been to produce more cooperation among enterprises that previously viewed each other as competitors. As fairs like Art Basel have shown a limited ability to execute online viewing rooms, these galleries appear to be seeking partnerships with high-traffic competitors like Sotheby’s which has proven its ability to cultivate new clients on a global scale. The move is unexpected from both the gallery and auction house sides but its logic is immediately apparent as a virtual direct-to-consumer retail format.
“Sotheby’s has made a point of investing significantly in our proprietary digital tools over the past several years,” said Sotheby’s Contemporary Art specialist, Saara Prichard. “And this network provides an opportunity to extend that investment to support the larger art market during this time. By uniting our different strengths, we believe this type of cooperative arrangement can be a model for success not only during the short-term, but also as a long-term reciprocal project to support all levels of the market.”
Following the impact of coronavirus closures across the art industry, Rachel Lehmann, cofounder of Lehmann Maupin noted the need to adapt. “The digital world is so important these days. This was true long before Covid-19 but is ever more apparent to us now. In this new initiative, we see an opportunity to expand our reach and promote our artists and their work to an international audience. One of Sotheby’s strengths is its commitment to curatorial integrity, even when dealing with the marketplace. We trust they will provide a rich curatorial context for our artists when showcasing artworks online” said Lehmann.
Among the works coming to the direct purchase marketplace includes Alex Katz’s White Rose 7 from 2012 carrying an asking price of $900,000 in Gavin Brown Enterprise’s offerings and Angel Otero’s Window Seat made in 2019 with a price tag of $100,000. On offer from Jack Shainman’s corner is Nick Cave’s sculptural costume Soundsuit from 2012—varying editions from the synonymous series have seen success at auction—valued at $150,000.