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    Artspace in Acquisition Talks With Auctionata

    artspace-catherine-levine-chriss-vroom

    Artspace’s Chairman Chris Vroom, right, with CEO Catherine Levine.

    COURTESY ARTSPACE.

    Artspace, one of the more prominent start-ups of a spate that strive to revolutionize the way art is sold online, is currently in acquisition talks with the Berlin-based online auction platform Auctionata.

    The talks are said to be nearing their final stages and have been ongoing since at least June 23, when Artspace Chairman and Co-Founder Chris Vroom sent an email to the staff that details a schedule for meetings with Auctionata that, while it avoids the word “acquisition” (which is typical of start-up culture), strongly implies the meetings are about selling the company.

    “Our businesses are highly complementary, without substantial overlap, particularly in the United States, which makes timing propitious,” Mr. Vroom wrote, after touting Auctionata’s fundraising and business strategy. “The Auctionata team from Germany as well as their US counterparts, will be in our offices through Thursday to complete the due diligence process, get a sense of the team, of which Alex Zacke, Auctionata’s Founder and CEO, already has a high opinion, and discuss potential synergies with the collaboration.”

    Mr. Vroom didn’t return a request for comment.

    “We have been in conversations and they’re ongoing,” said a source familiar with the talks today. “Hopefully it’ll be finalized in a couple of weeks.”

    Though Artspace was thought to be one of the better positioned art start-ups, with some $12 million in funds, internal reports show that the volume of their business at the end of March was probably below expectations, with just $577,000 in sales for the year (see the leaked chart below). Since Artspace’s business model is commissions-based, their revenue would represent just a minor fraction of that figure (perhaps just 27 percent of it, according to the chart).

    Amidst reports of sales-figure murkiness at other art start-ups, Auctionata seems more transparent than most, and has been expanding. This past April they raised $30 million, which brought their total funding to date to $52 million. Robin Davis, a spokeswoman for Auctionata, declined to comment when asked about Artspace acquisition talks.

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