The second shoe in the online art sales consolidation (or collapse) dropped today as Artspace announced the acquisition of VIP Artfair. Artspace is flush with a new infusion of capital (from Maria Baibakova and Canaan Partners) but elsewhere in the much-hyped online art sales world, companies like 20 x 200 are falling on hard times.
Here’s Artinfo on the problems at Jen Bekman’s innovative website:
On January 31, tensions finally came to a head: The website went offline. (A simple but vague message — “Stay Tuned: We’re taking stock and making updates” — has greeted visitors ever since.) Though rumors of Bekman’s departure proved premature — according to people familiar with the company’s transition, she is still technically CEO — her entire staff of 18 is no longer working with 20×200 in any official capacity.
Art works from less-established artists obviously haven’t been enough to keep 20 x 200 in business. But can Artspace make it further up the value ladder by acquiring VIP Art? Gallerist NY’s Andrew Russeth got these enlightening comments from the new owners.
“Prior to this acquisition, Artspace had the biggest list and largest unique user base in the space,” Artspace CEO and cofounder Catherine Levene told Gallerist. “This combination is radically going to change the space. We will be at least double or triple the size of any competitor. We’re at 20 times the traffic of some of the folks that regularly get written about,” Ms. Levene said.
But one question remains: is Levene referring to Paddle 8 or 20 x 200?
Can 20 x 200 Be Saved? Collector Anger Mounts as Leading Art Site Founders (Artinfo)
Artspace Acquires VIP Art (Gallerist NY)