Madelaine D’Angelo wants to build the next generation of great art collectors online, and she plans to do it by creating investment funds that take cues from the “sharing economy.”
The 28-year-old thinks her generation isn’t engaged by the current model of fine art ownership, even at a time when trendy startups are taking that model into the digital space.
Here's the old model: you plunk down money to buy a painting, then you own a painting.
Even if you’re buying online, or directly from artists, the model still revolves around the ownership of a specific work. Arthena, D'Angelo's startup, wants to break that model by creating special collections that people can buy into, gaining part ownership and access to certain perks.
“You can think about it like a mutual fund for art,” D’Angelo told Business Insider.
Arthena recently raised over $1 million in seed funding after graduating from the AngelPad accelerator, and is in the process of completing its first set of funds. To create each fund (or collection) Arthena partners with a specific world-class art expert who curates the purchases. Currently, Arthena has four collections in the works, from “Emerging European” to “New York Artists Post-1950,” each of which will contain five to ten works.
These collections are meant to serve as both a financial and cultural investment, D’Angelo says. Once you buy into the one (or more) you want — with a minimum investment of $10,000 dollars — your capital goes up as the value of the art goes up. Simple.
Right now, the works are kept in fine art storage and loaned out to museums and galleries, but D’Angelo and her team are developing a program for loaning them so investors can exhibit them in their homes. And D’Angelo says when they raise their Series A round of funding, they plan to create a gallery attached to the Athena offices in SoHo, with a rotating display of works.
D’Angelo’s team are analytics junkies, and investors in Arthena will be able to see the performance of every collection they own a piece of on a digital dashboard, 24/7.
But D’Angelo has noticed that while the strength of the investments is important to early adopters of Arthena, another thing that draws them in is the "members services" aspect of the company. Arthena coordinates gallery tours and studio visits, allowing investors to dip their toes into the world of fine art collecting.
In certain ways, Arthena is not only building a series of funds, but also a club. And it's not meant to be one that's pretentiously exclusive. D’Angelo hopes to eventually lower the minimum capital requirement to $2,500 dollars, which would open the collections up to many smaller investors.
D’Angelo firmly believes the low to middle end of the art market is what will see major growth in the next few years, even if the higher end might be in a bubble. And she’s quick to point out the difference between Arthena and an art flipper, or a service that puts together buyers and sellers like buzzy startup Artsy. Arthena will live or die on the strength of its picks.
What D'Angelo is building is an entirely new way to be an art collector, one that lets go of the ego contests of old, and is built for the digital age. But the pivotal question, which is central for any investment fund, is where is the market heading?
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