Affordable Art Finds a Retail Market

Three years ago, art advisor Chrissy Crawford Malone was at the heart of the art boom. She traveled around the world to attend frenzied contemporary art fairs and inspect potential acquisitions for her wealthiest clients. She helped young bankers establish fledgling collections.

But when the economy tumbled into a recession, it took the art market with it. In 2009, the world’s largest auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, saw the totals for their evening contemporary art sales decline by 75 percent. Art galleries were going out of business. Crawford's clients’ budgets dropped dramatically.

Today, she is involved with another boom—this time in affordable contemporary art. The 31-year-old just launched ArtStar, an online gallery that caters to sophisticated tastes while pricing its limited edition prints at $25 to $250, and original works at under $5,000.

“Art got so expensive and so exclusive,” says Malone. “It became almost impossible for anyone of normal means to own original artwork. We’re trying to open the art world up.”

ArtStar's roster of emerging talents includes figures in the super-hot Chinese contemporary art movement such as Shi Lifeng and Liu Jin.

“You could be buying the next art star," Malone says. "Pay $125, and if you hold onto it for five years, it could be worth much more.”

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