Costco, the big box retailer, sells virtually everything — engagement rings, meats, coffins — and now they’re extending their empire to the art market.
Apparently Costco used to sell fine art, but stopped after the authenticity of a couple of Picasso paintings it sold was questioned. The store began relisting art a couple of weeks ago, and have already sold eight of the 10 pieces listed on the company’s website, including two framed lithographs by Henri Matisse and a framed screen print by Andy Warhol. The store is also selling works by living artists, many of whom could never have imagined their work being sold in such a mass market way. “It’s a really great way to get exposure for my work in a way I wouldn’t be able to get on my own,” said artist Heather Robinson. “I know their customers are really important to them, and they have a really loyal following.”
Given the exclusive and difficult-to-access nature of the art world, the Costco fine art department represents a definite departure from the traditional art market, one in which, explains San Francisco art dealer Greg Moors, “the customer is more important than the deal.”
This isn’t the first time a large retailer has dipped its toe in the fine art market. In the 1960s, Sears sold more than 50,000 art works, including pieces by Picasso, Rembrandt and Chagall.
Would you purchase artworks from Costco? [NY Times]