Artsy continues its domination of the online art marketplace with the launch of new software that will allow collectors to bid in live sales at Phillips and Koller auction houses from June. It is the first time the technology start-up, founded in 2009 and backed by investors including the US dealer Larry Gagosian and the Russian collector Dasha Zhukova, will offer users the opportunity to bid in real time from anywhere in the world.
Sebastian Cwilich, the president and chief operating officer at Artsy, describes the move as “an important step in our mission to make all the world's art accessible to anyone with an internet connection”, noting that the best works are often saved for live auctions. Collectors will be able to bid live in Phillips’s 20th-century and contemporary art day sale on 28 June and Koller’s post-war and contemporary sale on 25 June.
Ed Dolman, the chairman and chief executive of Phillips, which has been beefing up its online operation in recent months, says it is “essential” to engage with tech-savvy clients “with as much ease and efficiency as possible”.
Artsy has previously partnered with auction houses to offer online-only sales. In October last year, the company collaborated with Sotheby’s on a virtual auction of 23 lots, mostly valued at less than $50,000 each. A spokesman for Artsy says the company is happy to offer the new live technology to its “growing list” of auction house partners.
As the online art market continues to flourish (it jumped 24% to $3.27bn in 2015, according to Hiscox fine art insurers), more firms are entering the fray. On 6 June, Artstack—dubbed Pinterest for art—launched its first sale via its social media platform. The five-day sale featured photographs by Magnum photographers, priced at $100 each.