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Phaidon bought

  • Art Market
August 19, 2014
Ana Bambic Kostov specializes in contemporary art writing, editing, content creation and management. Connect via LinkedIn

One of the most famous art book publishers, Phaidon, purchased, an Internet based company with a significant art database, dedicated to selling pieces by contemporary artists online. Being under Leon Black’s ownership, Phaidon made a move supporting the allegations about the rising importance of the online art market.

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Sold to Phaidon!

Phaidon was not the first investor interested in purchasing Artspace, since there’s word that the online dealer had meetings with Auctionata, Berlin online auctioneer venture, until they fell through recently, because they offered shares instead of cash, valuing Artspace just under $5 million. Phaidon offered cash deal and won the negotiations. Phaidon is one of the best known art book publishers, founded in 1923. It was purchased by Leon Black in 2012, and the company officials hope they will increase the access to worldwide art collectors with this buy, the same ones who may already be the readers and users of their books and products. Catherine Levene will remain in function as the CEO of Artspace, together with the nine employees. The last downsize in Artspace was in April, cutting from 28 employees to 9. Christopher Vroom, the company co-founder and chairman will leave the company pursuing other endeavors. Leon Black is also the chairman and the CEO of Apollo Global Management, a private equity company, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMa in New York, who already showed affinity towards the digital investing in an iPad application ArtBinder Inc, which has brought him money.

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Leon Black

Online Art Market Trend

There seems to be a trend in the recent months that big companies, dealing [with] art merge with smaller online businesses. Even Sotheby’s has made a move merging with eBay Inc last month, teaming up to stream auctions and transfer a part of their business on the web, opening up towards approximately 149 million prospective buyers. Not even the online giants such as Amazon remained immune to the increasing art demand. The market may not yet be booming, but its peak sure looks close. Artspace has found itself in a group of young startups, such as Artsy and Paddle8, receiving millions from various investors, which only signifies the interest of the big players into the www art trade. Christie’s, the biggest auction house in the world by revenue, put fifty million dollars towards a digital platform development in the last three years. The logical conclusion is – money can be made online, but it requires expanding the customer base significantly, and offering more extraordinary artwork.

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The Database

After attaining the VIP Art Fair in 2013, Artspace gained access to almost 50% of its greatest treasure, in which the investor was interested the most – the database. Some of the VIP Art Fair participants are in fact the most renowned galleries and dealers in the world, including Gagosian and David Zwirner, while the fair’s contact sheet contained contact info for around 75,000 people, with important clientele. Artspace therefore, achieved in composing a database with 150,000 active art collectors in their mailing list (the entire list contains 224,000 e mail addresses). On this list are the biggest contemporary art collectors, the most influential ones, the key gallerists, critics, curators and art world figures from all continents. The list is what Phaidon may have wanted in the first place, and what it got, for an undisclosed price.

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The Art Book

The Importance of a List

The Artspace mailing list is more than a name agenda. It’s also an important information source about purchasing power of the people on it. Contemporary art has proven to be one of the best assets of current art market, but it differs how much which collector can put aside for their purchases annually. The contact list is the mirror of hard work and the prized possession of all art dealers, big or small, providing them with a concrete platform for business development. It will be interesting to see how this merger will function and whether Phaidon’s Leon Black has made the right decision acquiring Artspace.

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CEO of Artspace on Phaidon
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