Artspace Eyes Wider Market

February 18, 2013

The startup online art-sales company Artspace has raised $8.5 million in new funding and recruited a Russian heiress to expand its reach overseas.

Maria Baibakova, the 27-year-old daughter of Russian nickel and real-estate magnate Oleg Baibakov, is a collector, curator and founder of the nonprofit Baibakov Art Projects, which has exhibited rising stars in a former chocolate factory in Moscow.

Founded in March 2011, Artspace is an online platform where collectors can purchase works by contemporary artists directly from commercial galleries as well as museums and other nonprofits. It earned attention shortly after its launch by offering institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum an opportunity to sell prints and other pieces of art that had been languishing in storage or gift-shop inventories.

The $8.5 million infusion of capital, a Series B raise led by the venture capital firm Canaan Partners, underscores the continuing growth of online art sales. Over the past few years, collectors have encountered a host of new opportunities to acquire work online, including the web-only VIP Art fair; online portals to brick-and-mortar art fairs; and the evolution of online sales and auction platforms such as Artsy, Artspace and Paddle8.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Christie's plans to offer at least 30 online-only art sales this year, up from just seven last year.

The company currently has about $100 million in inventory on the site. Over the next 12 months, Mr. Vroom said, "we hope to double that."

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Jennifer Maloney, Wall Street Journal, February 18th, 2013

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