Catherine Levene, former COO and general manager of DailyCandy, did what any executive should do when her company sells. She took a year off to travel the world.
While abroad, Levene studied art history in Madrid. Her passion for the arts led her to a new startup, Artspace.
Artspace, cofounded by Levene and business partner Chris Vroom, launched this morning with $1.2 million in funding.
The site has two main components: it’s an archive of work that will educate people about the arts, and it holds weekly private sales for members.
“Cultural institutions, galleries and artists face the challenge of reaching new audiences,” says Vroom, who has founded two other art-related startups. “And for those collecting art, there is so much information out there but very few filters. We want to help people learn about art and collect it, and bring that audience to the institutions and galleries.”
Artspace hand picks the best contemporary artists to feature on its site; it also partners with galleries like The Guggenheim. Levene and Vroom will take a cut of all sales, but the rest of the money will go toward supporting artists, art institutions, and nonprofit organisations.
Levene and Vroom currently have a team of six full-time employees, including art curators in Europe and Brazil. They are backed by notable investors such as Bob Pittman and Tim Mott.
We’re surprised a company like Gilt Groupe hasn’t already incorporated art into their private sales business. There is certainly a big enough market for an idea like Artspace to work.
“There are 11,000,000 mass affluent households in the US buying art every year,” says Vroom. “They’re currently buying art online, or from retail stores like Home Depot and Crate and Barrel. Artspace will show people amazing art they never knew about or thought they could afford.”
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