Abigail Esman reveals in her Forbes post that the art-loaning and online art trading firm, COMPANY, received much of its $1.6m in seed funding from its own CEO CJ Follini. The firm issued a press release recently touting its immediate profitability and $1.6 million seed investment from Ten Paces Capital and the Reen Family Office. Esman reports that Ten Paces Capital is Follini’s own firm separate from his real estate investments:
Follini established COMPANY earlier this year as a place where collectors of works by emerging artists could network, buying from and selling to one another, introducing each other to lesser-known talent, messaging, and – through a social media setting he calls “Campfire” – debating with one another about various artists and art news.
It is that social media aspect of the project which is, for Follini, the most gratifying; but it is only a tiny part of the overall picture (no pun intended). The site focuses on works by emerging artists (though occasionally an established figure will get through; the site currently offers an edition by John Baldessari, for instance), priced anywhere from $100 to $25,000. Collectors themselves set the price, though COMPANY also offers appraisal services through its affiliation with the Winston Art Group. To date, says Follini, the site has made about $500,000 in sales – an impressive figure for a company that has only been in business since March 1. Even more impressive: the company is already turning a profit.
But, Follini emphasizes, this ain’t e-Bay: the works available at COMPANY all go through a critical vetting process. “We have a committee of collectors and young MFAs that reviews the submissions,” he explains. “It is strictly our choice. We have rejected works more often than we’ve posted – it could be not original work, not emerging, not quality (in our humble opinion).” To make the cut, art works must “be interesting, provocative, and beautiful – though not necessarily always all at the same time.”
The Dotcom Art Boom (Forbes)