Italian dot-com sells modern art online

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ROME--Italian contemporary art retailer Arte E reported that in its first six months selling modern paintings and sculptures online, sales surged by 40% compared to the previous year, and the company attracted 8,000 first-time clients.

The company, whose name means "Art Is" in Italian, said sales rocketed to $15.3 million in the first six months of 2000, with its client base now numbering more than 32,000.

Arte E conducted an initial public offering in May, and has been scoffed at by some art purists for selling art online. But observers say that rival retailers now may be forced to follow Arte E's lead.

Though the company's sales are still small by general business standards, they are quite large by standards used to judge art retailers.

Copyright July 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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