Art Business

Cutting out the middle men

For collectors who resent the amount of money creamed off by dealers, auction houses and other intermediaries, there is an increasingly popular solution.

ArtViatic, an online platform that links buyers directly with sellers and allows them to negotiate their deals at a tiny commission rate, is rapidly gaining ground in the global art market.

Over the last 12 months, the site has increased its traffic by over 312.5% and has seen its membership more than double.

ArtViatic was founded by Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art dealer Antoine Van de Beuque in 2012.

In 35 years in the business (he has been Vice-Chairman of the Wildenstein company for 10 years) Antoine Van de Beuque had seen considerable evolution not just in the market evolve, but also in its channels and players.

He felt that the art market had become more and more global but also less fluid and more opaque as there has been a huge influx of intermediaries onto this new global industry.

The intermediaries have created a situation where a work’s price is almost never given, commissions can be prohibitive and consignment sales risky.

His solution was to move with the times and build a platform to reduce the gap between demand and supply and facilitate remote transactions in real time at a reduced cost.

“ArtViatic has thrown down the gauntlet and created a platform where collectors can converse in the utmost security and privately buy and sell exclusive works of art without any pressure from third parties and at significantly lower costs. It simply creates a brand new art market 2.0,” says Anne-Hélène Decaux, Head of Marketing and Communications at ArtViatic.

ArtViatic is arguably one of the most ambitious initiatives to come out of the art market in recent years. It is the first ever online platform for buyers and sellers to negotiate artworks directly, without involving a dealer, broker or auction house – none of which allowed the buyer to negotiate individually with the seller, without any pressure for third parties, and buy directly, without the need for an intermediary.

“We have also been audacious in choosing to enter at the top end of the market, rather than working from the bottom up,” says Decaux. “ArtViatic only accepts works over €150,000. We have had an excellent turnover from the outset, selling €4.1 million in artworks in our first year.

“Our achievements have earned us a growing reputation and, we are proud to say, the trust of important British, American, Chinese, Brazilian, Russian and Swiss private collectors.”

By cutting out the middleman and using Internet technology to reduce costs, ArtViatic is able to offer the lowest commissions on the market (3% buyer and 3% seller).

“This gives us a competitive edge and has helped us to win over numerous collectors who were fed up with paying 12-30% buyer and seller commissions,” says Decaux.

The site offers two different membership options: ArtViatic First Access and ArtViatic Premium. The First Access offer allows collectors to list their first work at no charge. They do not have access to the catalogue but they have access to our network for free.

The second offer, ArtViatic Premium, is an all-inclusive membership which grants collectors an unlimited access to the platform for €3,500.00 a year.

ArtViatic is an example of what can happen when a dealer recognises the need to adapt to stay in the game.  Van de Beuque saw that as long as the artworks could be traced, authenticated, and examined during private viewings, a whole new online model was possible.

With this in mind, all works listed on ArtViatic have been authenticated prior to listing and feature in the artist’s catalogue raisonné or have been appraised by a recognized expert.

Each proposed work is also analysed and verified thoroughly by ArtViatic’s specialists, and checked against the Art Loss Register database of stolen art.

“Despite our reduced fees we continue to offer valuable bespoke services such as estimations, valuations, advisory services, expertise, condition report etc.,” says Decaux.

“Naturally, we also arrange private viewings, because at ArtViatic the buyer can view the work physically in one of our nine private viewing rooms worldwide before they conclude the transaction. Buyers can come themselves, and/or send an expert at the viewing to make sure everything is fine.”

ArtViatic was conceived as a valuable resource for buyers, dealers, institutions (banks, foundations, museums, investment funds) and artists alike, but so far private collectors, investment funds and banks have been the quickest to embrace the model.

It has set the world record for the private sale of an artwork online, for a painting by Marc Chagall that sold for $1,830,000, and with the art world ever more geared towards trading online, the future looks rosy.

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Jenny White

Jenny White

Jenny is based in Wales and writes about visual art, finance, food, drink and lifestlye.