Phaidon acquires Artspace

Phaidon, one of the world’s leading publishers of books on the visual arts, has announced it has bought the online marketplace Artspace for an undisclosed amount in a major deal.
The investment, which is expected to increase its access to global art collectors, is the latest in a growing number of mergers/partnerships between traditional and digital publishers/organisations specialising in art.
Given that Leon Black and his family have been at the helm of the company since October 2012, the agreement, while significant, was somewhat inevitable. If not Artspace, then another online company would have come under Phaidon’s ownership, for the billionaire Mr Black is a renowned art collector and a very shrewd businessman.
Discussing the acquisition on the publisher’s website, Artspace’s co-founder and chief executive officer Catherine Levene explained that theexperience has been something of a “whirlwind”.
One moment she was close to securing a deal with another bidder and, just like that, a contract with Phaidon had been completed. Excited and thrilled by this new chapter in the company’s history, Ms Levene described it as “the perfect home” for Artspace.
“We founded Artspace to bring more art into people’s lives and to help artists, galleries, cultural institutions, and non-profits reach a broader audience,” she said.
Our mission is enhanced by Phaidon’s iconic brand, legacy of excellence, and international reach. We look forward to building our future together.”
Ms Levene’s counterpart at Phaidon, Keith Fox, added: “We look forward to enriching the experience of our audience and expanding our reach through new initiatives, including retail presence, product development, and the joint creation of original content.”
Assessing the deal in the wider context of recent purchases and collaborations, Bloomberg observes how the once niche world of online art – in all its forms – is now a fundamental part of how arts-based organisations, from start-ups to more established brands, organise their operations.
Take Christie’s, one of the oldest and most respected auction houses in the world. What it does on a day-to-day basis still works but it is keen to evolve. It too wants to expand its reach, which is why over the past three years it has pumped millions of pounds into its digital platform.
As is indicative of this trend, Christie’s equal Sotheby’s, another long-established giant of art auctions, only last month announced that it had entered into a partnership with the multinational e-commerce company eBay to allow people to make art auctions accessible online.
“The growth of the art market, new generation technology and our shared strengths make this the right time for this exciting new online opportunity,” Bruno Vinciguerra, chief operating officer at Sotheby’s, commented at the time.
“We are joining with eBay to make our sales more accessible to the broadest possible audience around the world.”
The industry is entering an interesting phase. Just look at the vitality of the art market, which alone has demonstrated post-recession that it can be a prosperous entity, even against the odds. The major shows may well be dominated by high net worth individuals but beyond that, there is plenty of activity at the lower end.
As such, more and more people, from all walks of life, and indeed from all salary spectrums, are gravitating towards the world of art. There is money to be made, and, if not, well, you go home with a work of art that delivers aesthetic and emotional benefits.
Cadogan Tate can ship works of art from your current location to your chosen destination anywhere in the world.