Preview

Archive
Art market

Online art ventures continue to face business difficulties

Eppraisals disappears, N@rt stops art sales, and nextMonet merges

Once the manager of Sotheby’s Chicago office, she founded her own auction house and turned it into a $16 million business, which she sold out to Sotheby’s in 1997. She then started up eppraisals, which was described as “bringing you the world’s most respected specialists in collectibles, fine arts, furniture and decorative arts.” For $20 users could send a description and photo of their piece, and get back a specialist's valuation, complete with a smart printable certificate. However, the company folded in June, telling clients, “Nearly two years ago, we were talking about the love of collecting art and antiques and this increasingly popular medium of the internet. That was how we got started, and now, sadly, it seems we were ahead of the times. For various reasons, we've discovered that the market isn't ready for the great product that we've built and developed. Our greatest satisfaction has been serving you, so thanks for the opportunity. Maybe we will see you again at an antique show, or perhaps, on the internet!”

Meanwhile in France, N@rt has been forced to rethink its business plan and rein in its ambitions. The company, which failed in a bid to go public just 18 months ago, has decided to concentrate on its publishing arm (which produces the art magazines L'Oeil and The Art Newspaper's sister paper, Le Journal des Arts). Up for sale are its three on-line art sale divisions, including Artcurial, which sold limited edition prints: a number of people have left the company.

Finally, nextMonet.com, which sold low-end original art by young artists (hence the twee name) has lurched down market by merging with Visualize.com, which sells posters. At its launch in 1999, nextMonet hoped to attract one million collectors by 2003, offering affordable original art. NextMonet’s founder Myrna Nickelsen has left, and the new ceo of the merged company is Abby Alderman. The site has kept the nextMonet name, and is now split, with nextMonet originals on one side and nextMonet prints (ex-Visualize) on the other.

There are still potted art history lessons available on the site (illustrated with works by the artists it sells, so “Impressionism” shows a painting by the deeply unknown Lisa Breslow) but the gadget which enabled users to try out a work against the colour of their walls has disappeared, along with a number of galleries who no longer wanted to work with a site that has basically become a poster shop.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘More trouble in the dot.coms'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 116 July 2001