Barnebys is the leading search service and aggregator for art, design, antiques and collectibles. By listing auction houses and art dealers from all around the world on one site, Barnebys makes unique, beautiful and sustainable items accessible to everyone - from art to furniture, wine to cars, jewelry, watches and fashion and much more. Here, Art Vancouver talks to Barnebys co-founder, Pontus Silfverstolpe, about the background of the company, how the platform works and what’s coming up next.
What was the original concept behind Barnebys?
Pontus Silfverstolpe: The idea behind Barnebys came when we ourselves realized how difficult it was to navigate around the art world. This was back in 2011, after many hours of searching the web, the results were practically fruitless, as there was nowhere to access all art and antiques in one place. We saw a need from both user and auction houses to reach each other without having the auction houses give away their brand, data and transactions.
Our Swedish site was launched in the fall of 2011, and just a couple of months later, the lion's share of the Scandinavian houses were affiliated with Barnebys and just a click away. We've come a long way since then, and we’re now in the US, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong. We're positive that our concept - where the auction house and dealers are at the forefront and maintain their customer relationships - will remain a success.
Barnebys was founded by me, Pontus Silfverstolpe and my co-founder Christopher Barnekow. I am an auction expert with 20 years of experience of fine arts and antiques. I have hosted antique TV shows as well as have written an antiques expert column in several Swedish magazines. Christopher Barnekow, CEO of Barnebys, is an experienced entrepreneur with more than 20 years of online marketing know-how. His track record includes successful undertakings, such as Rodeo Magazine, Got2Get and the Stockholm-based ad agency Smith.
What type of art can be found on your site? What are the price ranges?
PS: Prices on Barnebys vary greatly - we list all ends of the market, with prints starting from as little as $50 all the way up to the top end of the market at over $100 million. That’s the beauty of our search service - it’s all in one place. And it is for anyone!
How does the website work?
PS: You can filter your search on Barnebys by category (Ancient art, contemporary art, etc.) the location of the seller, the price range and how soon the auction will end. We work on a cpc (cost-per-click) model. Our clients are auction houses and dealers who know how relevant our traffic is - everyone searching on Barnebys is looking for exactly what they are selling - even if they don’t know it yet! Our clients set a cap of how much traffic they would like to receive from us.
We also acquired three companies last year. American company Simple Auction Site (SAS) for example delivers auction systems as a white label solution to US auction houses and galleries. At the end of April we will launch an updated version for Europe. This way, we can deliver both ”tech and traffic” to our clients. Last year, we also bought UK-based company Value My Stuff, which is the world’s leading appraisal service.
Who are your users and in what ways do they use Barnebys?
PS: We have all types of users, from the seasoned collector to novices and first-time auction users. Since we cover all kinds of categories you can be quite sure that you will find what you are looking for.
Our realized prices bank has more than 86 million sale prices from auctions around the world and is also a great tool for all kinds of users. New users can gauge the market while the more experienced can track exactly what art works and other collectibles are selling for.
Our appraisal service is also fantastic for all our types of users - new users gain access to a wealth of experts who can help them simply by uploading images and information of their potential treasures. But the best service might be our search alerts, where we do the work for you! You just have to type in what you are looking for, make it a search alert by providing us with your email address and then we send you an email as soon as there is something up for sale that matches your search.
What’s next for Barnebys?
PS: This spring we will launch a new version of Barnebys, with better search functionality, new features and a digital magazine with relevant content for all markets. We also are making an effort to help auction houses and galleries be released from platforms that capitalize on their brand, data and transactions by providing them with our white label solution (SAS).
As an art and antiques expert, what is the best way to navigate an art fair and how should new collectors approach the art fair circuit?
PS: Don’t rush through it! If you have time, visit the fair during two days. I promise you will make new discoveries the second day. When it comes to buying art it is all about seeing and learning as much as possible. The best thing with contemporary art is that you can be part of the journey together with an artist and their gallery. And when it comes to advice on what to buy, I always say the same thing: Buy from your heart, with money you can afford to spend. That way you will never regret your purchase.
Learn more about Barnebys at www.barnebys.com