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Artspace Lays Off Nearly All Employees, Roiling Online Art Market Landscape [Updated]

The Artspace home page.COURTESY ARTSPACE

The Artspace home page.

COURTESY ARTSPACE

Artspace, a startup that launched in 2011 with the aim of facilitating online sales for galleries and nonprofits, will part with the bulk of its staffers, sources have told ARTnews.

The layoffs appear to have gutted its editorial team, which for the past five years has provided the Artspace website with informational content about the art market and its players. The employees who remain operate in sales or marketing capacities.

Included in the layoff is Andrew M. Goldstein, the site’s editor-in-chief. Goldstein was brought on in 2012, having previously served as executive editor of Artinfo. Goldstein spearheaded the advent of Artspace’s editorial arm, the future of which is currently uncertain.

Sources told ARTnews that only five staffers will be kept on. As of Thursday night, there were 19 staffers included on the page of the Artspace website listing its team.

After launching, Artspace was successful in seeding rounds—crucial tests for fledgling startups. In 2012, it received an investment of $2.5 million, and in 2013, it raised $8.5 million in new funding. In 2013, it acquired the art sales website VIP Art.

In 2014, the publishing house Phaidon—which was purchased by billionaire Leon Black in 2012—bought Artspace. No sale price was disclosed, but a rival buyer, the online auction website Auctionata, valued Artspace at $5 million.

When reached on the phone, Goldstein declined to comment. Phaidon CEO Keith Fox also did not respond to a request for comment.

Update, January 6, 2017: Artspace’s CEO Emmanuele Vinciguerra sent over the following statement:

Artspace was acquired in 2014 by Phaidon to build an integrated art vertical including e-commerce and digital and print publishing.  Since the acquisition, we have collaborated on artist editions, content, sponsorships, social media, and programming.  After two and a half successful years,  Artspace and Phaidon have joined forces to accelerate growth and leverage our artist and collector relationships.  Artspace will have a dedicated team, including the employees you mention.  With the additional support of Phaidon’s staff and global resources, we will invest in our website, collectors, and gallery relationships.  We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and partners through our dedicated Artspace and Phaidon team.

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