Artstaq owner of Artex500
ARTSTAQ, which defines itself as the 'NASDAQ of the art world', created one of the new market platforms, ArtEx500. Courtesy of ARTSTAQ.

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Among the portals launched recently are wydr, an app that uses technology from dating sites to match potential buyers with works of art (launched last week); Artex500, an online exchange platform where "investors can acquire and trade art as an asset class in real time" (launched in the UK earlier this month); ArtAttack, a networking app for artists, galleries and collectors which also includes a buying button (launched in June); and Magnus, an app which tells users the price of a piece of art when they photograph it with their phone (launched in April).

The increase of these art market trading platforms suggests a second online gold rush similar to that in the early 2000s before the dotcom bubble burst.

The difference between these and earlier startups is that most of the services listed above are primarily mobile apps. Though Artex500 is primarily web-based, the rest use technology similar to social media platforms such as Instagram and Tinder.

Last week’s closure of ArtList was an aberration in the current upward trend for these startups. Perhaps significantly, it was a primarily web-based platform. It hosted secondary market trading as an alternative to auction houses.

Wider market

The common feature between all these platforms is a drive to reach outside the base of buyers already active in the art trade. Each service does so by targeting a difference audience.

“The art market is currently worth $63.6bn, but because of the lack of transparency 97% of professional investors don’t trade in it,” said Jozef Barta, CEO of Artex500 owner ARTSTAQ. He added his belief that Artex500 could “triple the size” of the art market.

Wydr targets a different group of investors offering artworks with a price point generally in the range of three or four figures.   

A portion of their ‘About Us’ section reads: “Most people are tired of generic posters from furniture stores and the intimidating way that you are treated in classic galleries with only little money in your pockets.”

These new technologies also bring a new vocabulary. While ArtAttack defines itself as “Instagram with a buy button”, wydr is referred to as “Tinder for buying art” and Magnus as “the Shazam of the art world”.