Works by Francis Bacon and Richard Prince went unsold as the worlds first online contemporary art fair suffered from problems such as a jammed chat system.
Works by Francis Bacon and Richard Prince went unsold as the world’s first online contemporary art fair suffered from problems such as a jammed chat system.
“It was expensive and the things that were meant to make it special didn’t work,” said Gordon Veneklasen, director of the New York-based Michael Werner Gallery. “We were unhappy.”
The VIP Art Fair, which closed on Jan. 30, was billed as an unprecedented event where collectors could access 2,000 works and connect with more than 130 dealers from 30 countries. Some collectors are increasingly willing to buy at online auctions: 28 percent of Christie’s International clients bid online.
After the fair opened on Jan. 22, its “chat with gallery” function froze. Three days later, the instant-messaging system, giving VIP Pass-holders access to dealers’ private rooms of works, was replaced by an e-mail “contact gallery” function.
Werner’s virtual booth contained the 2009 bronze “Lumpy Figure” by the U.K. artist Thomas Houseago, whose work was sought-after at last year’s Art Basel, Frieze and FIAC fairs. The sculpture was unsold at $225,000.
“At a fair, it would have sold in a minute,” Veneklasen said. “We’re going to try to ask for our money back.” Werner had one of the larger VIP booths, priced about $20,000.
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