The Real Risks of Buying Fine Art in Amazon’s New Online Art Marketplace

Morgan Bland

Danielle Rahm’s article, “The Real Risks of Buying Fine Art in Amazon’s New Online Art Marketplace”(2013) asserts Amazon Art’s flawed online system lacks necessary details and clarity making purchases unreliable and more challenging. Rahm backs up her claim by outlining important information provided at traditional auctions like condition, history, and evidence authenticity then describing transactions missing the information, whether intentional or not, on Amazon Art. The purpose of this article is to clarify the dangers of purchasing art online in order to advise consumers to be cautious of every fine art purchase because the website may be misleading or even fraudulent. Since Rahm writes from the view of a customer and art appraiser and offers advice for making the purchase more dependable her audience would be fine art collectors, online sellers, and art market website developers.

I agree with Rahm’s point of view, when it comes to artwork purchases, transparency is key. I enjoy her argument mainly because she is not attacking all online art markets she even acknowledges that they have wonderful advantages over the traditional format like a non-judgmental atmosphere, high accessibility, and an easier buying experience. Thus, the only problem is how do you know a seller is not taking advantage of you, especially if you are new to the collecting scene? I realize Rahm specifically targets Amazon, but I think this article implies something even larger. If a well-known and trusted website like Amazon is underdeveloped allowing counterfeit works to slip through the cracks then their might be even more questionable sites out there. I recently read another article on this topic in The New York Times that states many online art sellers take advantage of the Internet market by placing misleading descriptions and images to sell counterfeit works. Previously, my research led me to believe most online art sites were reputable, Ledor and Masterworks, requiring an extensive amount of information from certificate of authenticity to the exact width of paper the art was created on. This makes me wonder how often counterfeit sites exist? Moreover, what kind of impact is this having on the art community? The article above only deals with famous artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt, so is this a huge concern for new artists in the field? I would presume not, but perhaps copyright infringement is easier to get away with when no one cares to check. As always, there is more research to do.

Rahm, Danielle. “The Real Risks of Buying Fine Art in Amazon’s New Online Art Marketplace.” Forbes. Forbes Lifestyle, 13 August 2013. Web. 1 March 2016.

Image: The Technium


3 thoughts on “The Real Risks of Buying Fine Art in Amazon’s New Online Art Marketplace

  1. Addressing your statement near the end of the response, I would disagree that new artists would not have a huge problem with copyright infringement. It is much easier for people to have the resources to figure out if a Picasso piece is fake or not. However, it could be much more difficult for artists who are less established because of the fact not as many people would know it is a replication. This would effect the real artist in detrimental way due to the fact they are trying to establish their art in their career, and would not be benefiting from the stolen art work.
    However, I do agree that this fraud is disappointing and discrediting to all artists. Hopefully there will be more action to prevent counterfeit websites from fraud in the future.


  2. My main complaint with her argument is that it seems to be geared towards more valuable pieces of art. Most pictures that I picture being sold on Amazon are not the type that would be sold at an auction or have much of an elaborate background. Also, I feel like people who quest for fine art will not settle for Amazon as their main source. Of course, I could be wrong and her argument still applies to online art shops in general.


  3. Technology has had a major impact on art and how it is now able to reach a much broader audience through its accessibility. While most collectors probably do not begin their search for valuable art on, there may be other online sources where these works can be found instead of relying solely on on auctions. So if fraud and counterfeit is happening on a major website like Amazon, then this is issue is most likely present on the other smaller sources as well.


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