Interview of the Month with Barnebys
The Clarion List continues our series of interviews with leading art companies. Whether you are learning about these companies for the first time or are already familiar with their services, we hope this series helps shed insight into each’s distinct niche and makes the art services market in general more transparent.
This month we discussed online listing platforms with Pontus Silfverstolpe, Founder and Editor of Barnebys. Barnebys is a listing platform that is fast expanding globally, providing a one-stop shop for sourcing art and valuables available through auction houses and dealers. Learn about why they built their site in 2011, how their email alerts work, how they drive revenue as a middleman, and what the future holds for this fast-growing company.
The Clarion List: What is Barnebys and how does it work?
Pontus Silfverstolpe: Barnebys is the leading search service for arts, antiques, collectibles and design. By listing auction houses and art dealers from all around the world, we make unique, beautiful and sustainable items accessible to everyone - from art to furniture, wine to cars, jewelry, watches and fashion.
CL: What was the idea behind Barnebys?
PS: 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 searching the web, the results were practically fruitless, as there was no where to access all art and antiques in one place.
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 and Hong Kong.
We're positive that our concept - where the auction house and dealers are at the forefront and maintain their customer relationship - 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 we as 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.
Founder Pontus Silfverstolpe
CL: What type of art can be found on your site? What are the price ranges?
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 $10 million. That’s the beauty of our search service - it’s all in one place.
CL: How do you list works for sale; what is your listing criteria? How does Barneby’s drive revenue if users are redirected to third party sites to buy a work of art?
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 dealer 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.
CL: Who are your users and in what different ways are they using your site?
PS: We have all types of users, from the seasoned collector to novices and first-time auction users. Our realized prices bank is a great tool for all our users, new users can gage the market whilst 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 thing might be the search alert, where we do the work for you! You just have type in what you are looking for, make it a search alert by providing us with your email address and than we send you an email as soon as there is something up for sale.
CL: You’re headquartered in Sweden and just recently opened a USA office. Tells us more about the decision to open this new office and about the use of your site globally in general. Do you see regional trends in types of art searched for and purchased?
Barnebys' vision is global. We want you as a user to be able to find what you are looking for, no matter where it may be in the world. US market is also one of the most mature markets when it comes online presence and the US market includes more than 5,000 auction houses and more than 20,000 dealers. Because of the size of the States, American buyers are already much accustomed to using aggregators, such as Barnebys.
CL: What do you like about The Clarion List?
PS: It’s so important in the art and collectibles world to be able to reach out to the experts - at Barnebys we are all about opening up the market and making it transparent and accessible. The Clarion List seems to share this philosophy with us - information is the most important tool when making a decision in the art world: from bidding to buying, transportation, installation and valuation.
CL: What’s next for Barnebys?
PS: Barnebys will continue to grow and be more relevant to the user with upgraded services and relevant content. Next week we will launch our second online auction report which will focus on the design market and fifteen of the most searched designers by Barnebys' worldwide users.