people are turning toward online shopping for artwork

Bentley Gallery in Phoenix is downsizing its gallery space because of an increase in online sales.

The gallery, founded in 1984, will cut its space from 25,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet and move more of its art sales online.

“Online sales make up at least 30 percent of all sales and these sales are significant and can even be in the six figures,” said John Reyes, Bentley Gallery director.

Reyes started working for the Bentley Gallery in 2002 and even then the gallery was selling art online. But within the last three years online sales have increased exponentially.

Reyes said people are turning toward online shopping for artwork because they can spend the time researching the art and the artists.

“They’re doing their homework,” he said.

Sixty-five percent of online sales show that buyers have already researched the work and the artist, Reyes said.

“Art collectors today expect galleries to have a robust online presence as more and more art sales are moving to the Internet,” said Bentley Calverley, the gallery’s owner.

Online trade for galleries is expected to more than double by 2018, Calverley said.

There have been other galleries that have turned to just online-trade. Websites such as Artsy.net give buyers a chance to purchase pieces of art solely online and have seen success.

According to Artsy.net’s 2014 annual report, over 400 museums and institutions have shared their collections online. There are over 80,000 pieces of art for sale on Artsy and collectors have bought $5.5 billion worth of art from the site.

The online galleries also have increased the art market. According to Artsy’s 2014 annual report, the average distance between seller and collector is 2,700 miles.

Even with the move to online sales, Bentley Gallery will continue to host traditional exhibitions and artists’ showcases, Reyes said.

“We know it’s important to keep the traditional gallery intact because often buyers need context, and we’ll continue to offer that to them,” Reyes said.

With the gallery’s downsizing, the remaining square footage will be turned into an event facility called Warehouse 215 at Bentley Project.

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The gallery will be closed during the month of July for rennovations and will reopen on Aug. 1.