Online auction house Paddle8 secures follow-on funding from luxury investors Mousse Partners and venture capital fund Founder Collective, joined by artist Damien Hirst, the Mellon family, art dealer Jay Jopling, and Alexander von Furstenberg
With new funding, Paddle8 acquires option to purchase stake in Artnet, expands into design and collectibles, and opens offices in L.A.
Paddle8 today announced $6MM of funding from leaders in the art, media, luxury, and tech sectors, reinforcing the company's position as the auction house of the twenty-first century. New investors include Damien Hirst, the pioneering artist known for embracing innovative sales models and redefining the contemporary art market; members of the Mellon family, legacy art collectors and philanthropists; Alexander von Furstenberg, Chief Investment Officer of Ranger Global Advisors, focused on the Diller-von Furstenberg family's investments; art dealer Jay Jopling, and Hikari Yokoyama, a member of Paddle8's founding team.
The new investors join Mousse Partners, the private investment firm affiliated with a leading luxury goods company, with recent investments represented by Paperless Post and Bonobos; the VC firm Founder Collective, which previously backed Uber, Buzzfeed, and Makerbot; and Vladimir Evtushenkov's Redline Capital Management, experienced investors in e-commerce and media. Mousse Partners and Founder Collective led Paddle8's Series A funding of $4MM in February 2012. Redline is combining the investment in Paddle8 with its planned exit from German online auction firm artnet AG, with Paddle8 also acquiring an option to purchase from Redline a stake in artnet.
Since its founding in 2011, Paddle8 has refined its business model to become a niche online marketplace for art and collectibles, focusing exclusively on online auctions. Paddle8 presents two types of sales: themed auctions specializing in works of art up to $100,000, and benefit auctions (partnering with more than 140 non-profit organizations worldwide, from the Royal Academy to Los Angeles County Museum of Art). In 2012, Paddle8's auctions generated $10MM in bids; it surpassed that figure for 2013 by April.
With this infusion of capital, Paddle8 will continue to invest in new technology and also will expand beyond contemporary art into the realm of collectibles, from eclectic design to fine jewelry. Paddle8 recently opened an office in Los Angeles and will open in London in the fall.
The support of the new investors solidifies Paddle8's position as an auction house tailored to collectors, artists, and art dealers, offering significantly lower fees than traditional auction houses, as well as streamlined pre- and post-sale services. Paddle8 has had proven success collaborating directly with artists, from Richard Phillips to Marina Abramovic, the curator of one of Paddle8's earliest sales. Additionally, Paddle8's thriving benefit auction platform has provided an elegant option for non-profit institutions to reach a new audience of supporters through the Internet, while simultaneously appealing to the twenty-first-century collector's interest in and commitment to philanthropy.
"I'm excited by how the Internet can improve people's access to art, and Paddle8 has found a winning formula. They deliver a truly brilliant and stylish auction platform that is simple and accessible to all, and I'm delighted to be part of it," said Damien Hirst.
Paddle8's founding team is comprised of co-founders Alexander Gilkes (LVMH veteran and Chief Auctioneer at Phillips) and Aditya Julka (serial entrepreneur and Harvard Business School Baker Scholar), and COO Osman Khan (Perella Weinberg and Harvard Business School).
"I am fascinated by the increasing importance of eclectic collecting as a way for individuals to define themselves. Now, with the support of so many revered art, business and luxury innovators, Paddle8 is well-positioned to service this trend and continue to galvanize its reputation as the online auction house for art and collectibles across a range of niche areas," said Gilkes.
"We see significant room for growth in the online art segment and are impressed by the way that collectors, artists, and dealers alike have embraced Paddle8 as a destination for buying and selling fine art," said investor Alexander von Furstenberg, Chief Investment Officer of Ranger Global Advisors.
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