Art News

A New Virtual Auction Model Signals Ground Shift in Art Market

BOSTON, MA., February 25, 2016 — The Curator’s Eye (TCE), a US digital marketing firm for art dealers and galleries, is announcing its move into virtual auctions, shaping the way auctions will be held and signaling exciting changes for the future of the industry.

This follows the recent announcement of a partnership between BADA (The British Antique Dealers’ Association) and TCE and signals significant changes in the tradition-bound art and antiques industry. The Curator’s Eye will host digitally-based live auctions beginning in the second quarter of 2016.

“Our auction solution means that art organizations are no longer restricted to just being clubs with fee paying dealer members,” said Rick Patzman, co-founder of The Curator’s Eye. “They will now be able to operate as revenue generating businesses. This critical shift will empower both the organizations and their member dealers to compete more effectively and directly with major auction houses.”

In addition to providing the digital platform that will allow trade organizations to expand their customer base from a local few to the entire wired world, The Curator’s Eye offers services to art dealers, trade organizations, and show operators. Services include client development, ecommerce, auction and digital marketing.

“When you get down to it, traditional auction houses rely on three major components: a reputable brand, specialist knowledge, and infrastructure,” said Sarah Valelly, co-founder of The Curator’s Eye. “Our auction model eliminates the bloated infrastructure of the traditional houses and replaces it with a more efficient one.”

Valelly said that The Curator’s Eye uses a proprietary technology platform to create a more efficient version of the services currently provided by large houses, while at the same time allowing them to capture greater market share. She said that roughly 50 percent of transactions through the high-cost major auction houses originate from art dealers, which means that dealers collectively have the opportunity to save vast sums on commissions and fees.

According to the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015, the value of the online art market could reach $6.3 billion in 2019. Art market sales total more than $55.5 billion US dollars annually, but currently less than $3 billion US dollars in sales is contracted digitally.

“The art auction business is moving to a more efficient model with the decoupling of inventory warehousing, specialist knowledge, marketing and transaction processing,” Valelly said. “It is going in the same direction that financial services did when it moved into an open architecture model.” offers specialized, targeted marketing and integrated digital services to the art dealer marketplace. The new technology-fueled business model innovates a singular vision for the future of the auction industry. There are a number of benefits to:

Trade Organizations: (Revenue and branding)

Trade groups partnering with TCE benefit from providing a new high value service to their member dealers, who rely on high-cost outlets for their sales. A significant incentive for the trade groups’ ongoing posterity is the potential for additional revenue that would be sustained from a partnership. TCE’s global reach will enable trade groups to engage with worldwide markets at a significantly lower cost while also bolstering their brand.

Art Dealers: (Lower costs and greater exposure)

TCE will operate and oversee trade group branded auctions as well as specialist auctions for independent dealers. Virtual auctions will provide dealers direct access to global buyers, facilitating selling opportunities after the auctions. In addition to cash flow and enhancing competitiveness, dealers save on expensive real estate and duplication of specialty, while maintaining possession of their inventory until after auction sales.

Collectors: (Lower costs and buying confidence)

Collectors benefit from lower fees, confidence and transparency in the buying process. The dealers are in direct contact with the buyers in the capacity of specialist, a role that has been the domain of the specialist at the large auction houses.