The Ritz Herald
Principal Auctioneer Jordan Sitter and Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro. © Park West Gallery

The Future of Fine Art: Park West Gallery Is Breaking Records With New Live-Streaming Online Auctions


Will online art auctions be 2021's hot new trend in the art world?

Published on January 19, 2021

Has the global pandemic changed how people are buying art? There is growing evidence to show that art collectors are enthusiastically embracing online auctions as an appealing and safe alternative to purchasing art in-person.

Park West Gallery was one of the first art dealers to pivot to online auctions during the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak. Founded in 1969, Park West is the largest art dealer in the world and they have been holding live-streaming online auctions for their collectors over the past nine months.

“We knew collectors would love our new online experience,” said Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione. “But what we didn’t anticipate is how quickly that segment of our business would grow.”

Principal Auctioneer Jordan Sitter tells viewers about an original work by Florida artist Ashton Howard.

Since the start of 2021, Park West has seen record sales and attendance at their online auctions. In fact, over the January 15-17 weekend, the gallery sold 1,559 works of art, the largest number of works that Park West has ever sold during an online auction weekend—breaking their previous record set only two weeks ago on New Year’s weekend when a special three-year-old guest auctioneer brought down the hammer on the record-breaking sale.

“There are many benefits of auctioning art online,” said Scaglione. “One of the biggest benefits is the selection you can offer. When we’re auctioning at an event or on a cruise ship, there is a finite amount of art we can fit into the space. But, when we’re online, the variety of art that we can offer to our clients is simply incredible. And we’re taking advantage of that every week.”

One of the highlights of this past weekend was record-breaking sales from two of Park West’s hottest new artists, Ashton Howard and Jon Rattenbury. Howard is a Florida native who has won critical acclaim for his works of “Fluid Realism”—a technique he invented that captures the light and movement of water in a truly unique fashion. Jon Rattenbury, a popular contemporary artist, is well-known for his “dimensional acrylic” paintings, which give his landscapes an otherworldly level of texture and depth.

The January 15-17 weekend also saw record sales for works by the late great Jean-Claude Picot, the renowned Post-Impressionist who passed away in August 2020.

“We’ve really seen a huge uptick in our online art auctions in 2021,” said Park West Principal Auctioneer Jordan Sitter. “I had a client last weekend who knew us from our cruise auctions who had never attended one of our online auctions before. She saw some of our recent press coverage and decided to attend her first one. She ended up spending over $100,000! Art collectors are really responding to this new format.”

This new surge in online art collecting aligns with 2020 research from Barron’s, the Dow Jones & Company magazine, which noted that the COVID-19 crisis could fundamentally boost online art sales and predicted that the shift to online platforms for art collecting could be “both permanent and transformative.”