Artspace.com Secures $8.5 Million In Growth Capital Financing
Maria Baibakova Appointed as Strategic Director
-Funds will be used for more technology investment and global expansion-
NEW YORK – Artspace.com, the leading online marketplace for contemporary art, announced that it has raised a total of $8.5 million in new funding, led by Canaan Partners, to fuel its rapidly expanding global platform. Artspace.com Co-founders Catherine Levene and Christopher Vroom also announced that world-renowned collector Maria Baibakova will join the company’s Board of Directors and has been appointed Strategic Director to expand the company’s presence in global markets.
Founded in March 2011, Artspace.com is the only online platform where collectors can purchase works by top contemporary artists directly from leading commercial galleries and prestigious cultural institutions, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Paula Cooper Gallery, David Zwirner Gallery and White Cube. As a part of the Artspace Limited Edition series, the company’s curators also commission exclusive works of art directly from the most exciting artists working today including Lawrence Weiner, Peter Coffin, Wangechi Mutu and Marcel Dzama, working closely with the artists, their studios and master printers to produce work of exceptional quality in small editions.
“We are proud to be helping artists, galleries and institutions reach broader audiences and to provide collectors access to artworks from all over the world,” said Catherine Levene, CEO. Through our transactional business model, we offer buyers a selection of unique and editioned artwork by top artists ranging from a few hundred dollars to $1,500,000. Although we are less than two years old, we’ve sold to collectors from over 25 countries. Buyers appreciate that we provide information and deep educational content alongside transparent pricing so purchases can be made confidently and easily,” said Levene.
With the $8.5 million raised, Levene and Vroom plan to meet the growing demands of the collecting public and quintuple the site’s fine art inventory. Canaan Partners, a leading global venture capital firm, led the Series B raise joining existing investors including Baibakova; Carmen Busquets, Co-Founder of Net-a-Porter and Founder of CoutureLab and GiftLab; Pamela and Richard Kramlich, Chairman and Co-Founder of Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates; Tom Stemberg, Founder of Staples Inc.; Robert Pittman, Founder of MTV; Tim Mott, Co-Founder, Electronic Arts and Macromedia; and Mike Yavonditte, former CEO of Quigo. Canaan Partner’s Warren Lee, who has also been appointed to Artspace.com’s Board of Directors explained, “There is significant opportunity in the art technology sector at the moment and of all the platforms that we investigated, Artspace.com has the most compelling business model. We are already seeing existing collectors embrace the platform and we believe the next generation of art collectors will expect to be able to buy online.”
As Strategic Director, Baibakova will help expand both Artspace Limited Edition series and the site’s inventory through the acceleration of its partnerships with museums, cultural institutions, galleries, artists, publishers and art fairs globally. Baibakova is uniquely qualified for such a position because the collector and founder of the critically acclaimed Baibakov Art Projects (BAP) is consistently named in the international press as one of the art world’s most influential figures. Baibakova, who has her masters in Art History from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London and is currently pursuing her MBA at Harvard Business School, has a cultural fluency and business acumen that also make her, according to The Wall Street Journal, one of the most sought after Board members by US cultural institutions.
“Over the last nine years my mission has been to support artists and the platforms that empower them. I see Artspace.com as a new, and, importantly, viable model to achieve these goals by opening artists, galleries and cultural institutions up to new audiences, both in my native Russia and around the globe,” Baibakova explained. Reflecting on the site as a resource for aspiring collectors she continued, “I’m acutely aware of the time, energy and access required to build a collection. Until Artspace.comthere were no tools available enabling collectors to make informed purchases online – I hope to continue expanding Artspace.com as the trusted resource and marketplace for collectors of all levels.”
Artspace.com’s dedication to cultural institutions is because of Vroom’s philanthropic background. A well-known patron of the arts and an avid contemporary art collector, Vroom worked as a financial analyst for nearly 20 years before transitioning to the art realm in 1997 when he founded Artadia, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting artists directly through financial awards, public exposure and access to a national network of support. Vroom’s longstanding relationships with museums and curators provided him with an inherent understanding of institutions’ need to reach new audiences. “In 2012 alone we were able to raise over a million dollars for museum and cultural institutions. Culture is local and I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to amplify the visibility of outstanding programming and artistic practice to a global market,” said Vroom.
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