You Can Now “Try” Art Before You buy It With This Innovative Startup
This new concept could disrupt the art industry.
We’re in an instant gratification age where everything on the internet and on our phones is screaming for our limited attention. So, especially with the younger generation, the luxury art business can sometimes be a hard sell. You’re also competing with evolving new mediums, such as virtual reality art. And even for those with an attentive appreciation for art, buying a painting is a costly and semi-permanent decision (until you go through the work selling it, at least).
Smart-Collectors, a innovative new art platform, is seeking to disrupt the art industry and solve this issue. Founder and CEO Christian H. Rother wants to “share with the world the privilege of surrounding oneself with art.” “Normally, few people are privileged enough to have access to renowned artists,” he says.
The company is providing that “privilege” and making fine art accessible to nearly everyone through a simple model that is counter-intuitive to the fine art marketplace. Instead of buying art outright, you’re able to rent pieces from a curated collection through their site (in periods of 3–12 months), and then have renowned art delivered right to your doorstep.
Here’s how it works: The monthly subscription fee for each artwork depends on the current sales price and the holding period of your subscription. You can rent for 3, 6 or 12 months, and after the holding period, you also have the chance to buy the artwork at the original price (in which case they fully accredit the monthly payments you made).
Making money with a unique scoring system
Andy Warhol once said that “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. ” — but making money off art is an entirely different matter. It can be hard for the layperson to evaluate whether art holds value, and they’re stuck with a costly mistake if they make the wrong purchase.
Much of Smart Collector’s system invokes a systematic investing method to simplify the process. Through their rating systems, buyers are able to evaluate the artwork’s potential future value. The higher the rating, the more the art has been traded for increased value in the past, and more importantly, the more likely it will rise in value in the future. Just like stock options, renters are given the option to buy the piece at an original agreement price, and could make hefty profits if the piece rose in value during the renting period.
Christian Rother also compares his process to an IPO that benefits both sellers and buyers (or renters): “Think about an IPO (Initial Public Offering) of a company. A company creates something, generates value. At the IPO, the company raises money in order to continue creating value. So, you might not only give the company money by buying stocks at their IPO, you might also be interested in buying their products or services as they add value to you. Others might want to follow you in the belief that the company actually does quite well.”
Making high-end art accessible with renowned artists
The goal isn’t just to make any art accessible — Smart Collector’s collection goes through a rigorous vetting process. Each piece that’s available to collectors is evaluated through a three-tiered scoring system — with up to 30 points rewarded for the artist’s education/background, the work itself, and its meaningfulness. Those that can’t make the cut aren’t included, and the scoring is dynamic and constantly adjusted on various factors (like media mentions).
For renowned Galerie Barbara von Stechow and artist Tom Christopher, whose works were recently featured in New York Art Miami and subsequently written up in Art Net, the model provides a way to have more of a market, without diluting the meaning and prestige of the art. “Young people don’t own or want to own walls so they are reluctant to buy art for them,” says Tom Christopher.
The bottom line is that the art world is constantly evolving, and the sell side can take advantage by metamorphosing along with it. This just goes to show that fine art and accessibility don’t have to be mutually exclusive.