Amazon's new Fine Art and Collectibles section just launched yesterday, and it is already getting less-than-stellar reviews.
One of the most vocal opponents is economist Tyler Cowen, who says that much of the art is low quality and overpriced. "It looks like dealers trying to unload unwanted, hard to sell inventory at sucker prices," he wrote on Marginal Revolution.
Most of the items by famous painters — including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Míro — are lithographs, mady by a delicate printing process that uses oil and water on an aluminum plate to make copies. Since there are multiple renditions available, these are usually much less expensive than a typical painting.
But there are a few original paintings for sale. The most expensive is a Norman Rockwell for $4.85 million. There's also a Claude Monet painting titled "L'Enfant a la tasse, a portrait de Jean Monet" from 1868 available for $1.45 million.
The Monet is getting particular attention from Amazon reviewers who find the new section — and its prices — absolutely ridiculous.
Below are some of the best comments about the painting.
"L'Enfant a la tasse, a portrait de Jean Monet" (1868) by Claude Monet.
"USED? PAINTING HAS CRACKS!"
"For as much as I paid I'm a little upset that this isn't a new painting. You can see OBVIOUS cracks and I'm worried that the artwork has had several owners before me. I might return to Amazon if I can't get in touch with the seller. 1 out of 5 stars."
"BUYER BEWARE: THIS ITEM IS IN FRENCH. There is no English version. I purchased this product and couldn't understand a word of it."
"The meme has no caption!"
"Pros: Delivered as promised, packed well.
Cons: Stupid picture of some kid, and it's old. And the kid that painted it left their signature right on the painting where everyone can see it; ego much?"
Overall: This was a waste of money, I'll never buy any memes by this Jean woman ever again."
"Eww, as if"
"My friend Dionne advised me against buying a Monet, and I should have listened. From far away, it's okay, but up close it's a big old mess."
"THIS IS THE REAL THING, BEWARE OF "MANET" RIP-OFFS!"
"I've been a fan of Monet since the early days and this is a serviceable example of his mid-period stuff, not too fancy but gets the job done and gives an idea of what he's like for people who aren't ready to make up their minds about Waterlilies or Impression, Sunrise. But I really wrote this review to warn casual searchers that some bunch of opportunists are trying to rip off the unwary or inexperienced browser by flooding Amazon with their cheap replicas, under the confusingly similar name "Manet". Remember, it's "Monet", with the "o" that is the real thing. Apparently it's permitted by the Terms of Conditions for people to sell "Manet" product, as long as (when pushed!) they admit somewhere in the fine print that their "Manet" paintings aren't genuine Monets. Seems as unethical as hell to me, but I guess all we fans can do is warn the gullible."
"I was seriously considering purchasing this item, but I can't get beyond my suspicion that the artist doesn't know how to draw hands. The clumsy attempt to hide them behind a misshapen bowl just screams AMATEUR."
Amazon also has a helpful "In Room" feature in the new section that shows what the art would look like in your (minimally-decorated) home:
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