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Will art lovers spend online?

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An online art fair believed to be the first of its kind in the world is now open to visitors. The VIP Art Fair, which costs a fraction of the usual rates for galleries to show their works, has already proved successful in attracting more than 138 contemporary art galleries from around the world, showing some 7,500 works by more than 2,000 artists, from Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud to Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst.

Now it remains to be seen if it will be equally successful in attracting buyers for the works, which range in price from less than $5,000 to more than $1m. By the start of the show, the brain child of New York dealers James and Janes Cohan and internet entrepreneurs Jonas and Alessandra Almgren, visitors from 126 countries had signed up to view works at www.vipartfair.com.

The fair, which runs until January 30, follows the conventional format of a physical art show, so that the visitor clicks from gallery booth to gallery booth, looking at the works on art on display there, and zooming in and viewing through rich media. They can also create tours of their favourite works to be shared by email and social media.

VIP tickets, costing $20 from now until the end of the week, include the ability to visit the VIP Lounge, view private rooms, see the price ranges for each work and use an integrated chat and messaging system to speak to galleries.

Any acquisitions are made by private arrangement between the gallery and the buyer.

The results of the event will be of interest to the sellers of luxury goods, from jewellery to prestige cars, keen to see whether there is a strong enough appetite to buy such goods online.

So far such companies have experimented with technology including augmented reality, which allows potential buyers to see how watches and other jewellery would look on them through the prism of their computer screen.

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