The Internet startup, Artspace.com that sells works by contemporary artists, was acquired by Phaidon today for an undisclosed sum. Phaidon is a publisher of art and design books and has an online presence of its own, but has been looking to expand.
Artspace.com is renowned as the premier marketplace for contemporary art. The Wall Street Journal has boasted, “Artspace…offers a more populist approach to collecting…by leveraging an extensive network of partnerships with galleries, museums, & foundations…”
Another benefit to Artspace is their coveted mailing list which includes 244,000 email addresses. “Companies can make money online by expanding their customer base or by offering more exclusive and expensive artworks,” said Clayton Press, art professor for New York University. And Artspace has that customer base as Catherine Levene co-founder of Artspace pointed out, “Artspace has the base: its mailing list includes 150,000 active art collectors. […] There’s purchasing power behind the lists.” NYU’s Press estimates there are 150,000 to 200,000 collectors globally who spend more than $50,000 year on contemporary art.
The owner of Phadion, Leon Black, is a noted art collector as well and joins the flock in the latest gust of mergers that have been shaking up the internet art market.
Just last week, Demand Media Inc. paid out $17 million in cash and stock for Saatchi Art, which offers works by 45,000 artists online. Sotheby’s, an online auction and private sales of fine art is said to be forming a partnership with Ebay Inc. to expand their customer base. In 2013, Amazon Art began selling art from international galleries.
In an interview with Levene regarding the acquisition she sounded enthusiastic and positive, “It’s the perfect home for Artspace,”. The company’s mission “has always been to make great art accessible to a wider audience. It’s exciting to have a partner who shares our vision.”
While Levene will remain CEO for Artspace, her co-founder, Christopher Vroom will pursue other interest after the transition.