Amazon Opens Online Fine Art Gallery

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - One day after Amazon ( AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos agreed to buy the Washington Post for $250 million, Amazon announced it has a new way for customers to spend their hard earned dollars online: Amazon Art.

Amazon has created an online marketplace for fine art. It's offering more than 40,000 works of art by 4,500 artists, from more than 150 galleries and art dealers to start. The company says the new collection offers pieces "from Folk Art to Impressionism to Modern Art".

The Amazon Art store includes original works and limited-edition pieces. At launch it is offering pieces ranging from Clifford Ross photographs (starting at $200) to Andy Warhol's "Sachiko" ($45,000), historic artwork from Claude Monet including, "L'Enfant a la tasse, portrait de Jean Monet" ($1.45 million) and Norman Rockwell's "Willie Gillis: Package from Home" ($4.85 million).

To create its first portfolio Amazon has partnered with art galleries of all sizes in the United States, Canada and Europe. Major partners include Paddle8 in New York, Holden Luntz in Miami, McLoughlin Gallery and Modernbook in San Francisco and Catherine Person Gallery in Seattle.

Amazon believes its online buying experience will come close to buying art in person. Amazon Art promises to provide customers with high quality images and detailed information about each piece including pertinent facts about the artist, the provenance and exhibition history and the ability to browse additional artworks from that artist or gallery.

Amazon believes its new online discovery tools will "help open the art world to customers". While the company is seeking additional art dealers and galleries it says it will not be accepting applications directly from artists.

Amazon shares were down 0.34% to $299.98 in early Tuesday trading.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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