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Luxury In-Flight Shopping: Virgin Atlantic to Offer Art for Sale

Virgin Atlantic first-class passengers traveling between New York and London will be able to buy paintings by British artist Ben Eine during flights and at the Virgin Atlantic clubhouses at New York's JFK, Newark International and London's Heathrow airports.
Source: Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic first-class passengers traveling between New York and London will be able to buy paintings by British artist Ben Eine during flights and at the Virgin Atlantic clubhouses at New York's JFK, Newark International and London's Heathrow airports.

Forget perfume, watches and cigarettes. Just when you thought upper-class in-flight shopping couldn't get any swankier, Virgin Atlantic has announced it will sell works of art to passengers from the comfort of their seats.

All during February, elite passengers flying between New York and London will be able to view and purchase paintings by British street artist Ben Eine. The art will be available for view at Virgin Atlantic's clubhouses or lounges at JFK, Newark and Heathrow airports, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Passengers flying the route can view the pieces on the ground, and then buy them in flight in the "Gallery in the Air."

'NEW YORK SAUCE'

Virgin Atlantic's in-flight entertainment system will also feature videos that showcase a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the paintings.

Artist Eine — known for his colorful, striking typography that started on London's streets — drew on his perspective of London and New York, and the airline founder Sir Richard Branson for inspiration. Canvasses feature phrases such as "GREAT ADVENTURE," "NEW YORK SAUCE," "AFTERNOON TEA" and "TWENTY FIRST CENTURY METROPOLIS" — the latter an update of a piece currently hanging in the White House.

"My philosophy through all my work, be it on canvas or on the street, is about pushing boundaries and not going with the flow because everyone else is doing something a certain way," said Eine in a statement. His work is set to be the first in a series of on-board collaborations with artists, according to the release. The paintings are priced between $4,000 and $24,000.

(Read more: Virgin America Launches Upgraded Loyalty Program)

Virgin Atlantic Loft at LAX airport
Source: Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic Loft at LAX airport

The unique art-for-sale event follows Virgin Atlantic's $160 million investment last year to upgrade the airline's experience for upper-class passengers. The premium cabins feature the longest in-flight bars in the sky, according to the company.

Virgin's businesses overall are expanding. Virgin America opened its first domestic airport lounge in December at LAX. (Read more: Virgin America Opens LAX Lounge: Sorry, No Kids Allowed)

The British billionaire's business portfolio includes Virgin Media. Also a philanthropist and adventurer, Branson has positioned Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America as hip airlines, complete with purple and red mood lighting and trendy cocktails. Virgin America's flight attendant uniforms were reinterpreted by Banana Republic, part of the Gap.

(Read more: Virgin's Richard Branson on Breakthroughs, Luck and Success )

Written by CNBC's Heesun Wee. Follow her on Twitter @heesunwee

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