I have bought art through eBay and through Heritage Auctions. So I decided to take a look and see what other internet auctions were out there. I went to this site called Live Auctioneers. What it does is host auctions for various galleries, etc. It's a little like Alibris, an online bookseller of used and collectible books that puts the stock of many different antiquarian and used booksellers up in one place. I've had lots of success with Alibris, so I thought I'd give Live Auctioneers a try.
They were representing a Belgian gallery called Art Partner Gallerie. They were having a show of contemporary art, and as I looked at the lots, I decided--just to try it out--I'd put in a couple of small bids. I bid on a Bernar Venet silkscreen (I had seen a similar one recently at McClain Gallery) and a pair of "postcards" by Joseph Beuys.
Bernar Venet, Planche Mathematique 01, silkscreen on polycarbonate, edition of 60, 2002
This thing is huge--80 x 120 cm. That was clear on the lot description, but now I have a piece that really is too big for me to hang! Oh, well. I'm satisfied. I got a bargain for it, if the prices for other "planches mathematiques" I see online are accurate.
Bernar Venet is, of course, best known for his giant metal sculptures, such as the ones in Hermann Park, at the McClain Gallery, or in front of the home of John and Becca Thrash. He also guest-starred in a really funny episode of The Madness of Art.
So that was the good part of this experiment. Here's the bad part.
These are two Joseph Beuys postcards, produced by Edition Staeck. One is on wood, the other on Beuy's trademark thick felt. The description of the lot is here. Now my mistake in bidding on these was to not do any research. If I had, I would have learned from the Editions Staeck website that there were 100 signed and numbered postcards in this edition, but the unsigned cards are "unlimited." In this case, "unlimited" is a word that means they can produce as many as the public wants.
Then I would have looked closely at the lot description and the accompanying photo, and realized that these were not signed and numbered (unlike the Venet). So even though I didn't bid much for these things, I bid more than they are worth. I could have bought them straight from Edition Staeck for significantly less than what I actually paid for them.
Well, all in all, I came out ahead. And I learned a valuable lesson--do the research before you buy!