There are new signs that collectors are becoming more comfortable with online art sales. Last Friday, June 21, a watercolor by Egon Schiele, “Reclining Woman” (1916), clicked in the highest price yet for an artwork offered in an online-only auction, according to German auction start-up Auctionata.
Schiele’s work sold for €1.5 million ($1.96M) or €1.8 million ($2.36M) including the buyer’s premium. The amount shot past the former record set by a 1978 artwork from Andy Warhol’s Flowers series that sold for $1.3 million on Artnet Auctions in 2011. The Schiele work was estimated at €2 million.
The Friday online sale saw 68 out of 100 lots sold, including Carl Moll’s “Villa in Vienna” (1905), which exceeded its estimate of €70,000 to bring in €240,000.
While Auctionata may not be as well known to North American audiences as other online art start-ups based in New York, such as Artsy, Artspace or Paddle8, last April the Berlin-based company attracted an investment larger than any of its competitors with €15.5 million ($20.2M) in A-round funding led by venture capital firm Earlybird to expand their global business, recruit new talent, and develop new technology. Bright Capital, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, eVenture Capital Partners, and the Raffay Group, also contributed to the round, as did Kite Ventures, which was already an investor in the start-up.
The European start-up told Forbes earlier this year that they are planning to open an “online showroom” in New York as the company’s next priority, and it seems clear that the company has its sights set on disrupting the high-end art auction business.