There is now less than a week left until the Art + Tech Summit and our next feature is on an online auction house, Paddle8, that caters to the new generation of collectors who are just as comfortable, maybe even more so, bidding on their phone as opposed to visiting a brick and mortar auction house. Vastari asked the managing director, Izabela Depczyk, a few questions to better get acquainted with this virtual auction house, and its use of art and technology.

Izabela, who is also the founder and CEO of the Native SA (the strategic investor in Paddle8), is just as thrilled as the other innovators we have spoken to about participating in the Art + Tech Summit on July 17th. Paddle8 is an ever-evolving art and tech company who recognize that security and trust for collectors concerning authentication, transparency, and privacy are the biggest issues facing the art market, particularly the online marketplace. They have already started developing initiatives to solve these issues like the P8PASS, a new tool which utilizes blockchain technology. P8PASS evolved from the partnership between Paddle8, The Native SA, and Verisart (Europas 2018 Hottest Blockchain dApp winner), and works as a blockchain based authentication service.

“Paddle8 offers a digital certificate (the P8Pass) for each of the thousands of artworks transacted online and encodes this information into the blockchain ledger, providing a tamper-proof record of the artwork. This is a service that will greatly enhance transparency, trust, and security for high-value transactions.”

Izabela says that online art collecting is the future for the art market. To set themselves apart from the competition, and grow in what they believe to be their strongest market, Paddle8 decided to target a generation of collectors who are “digitally savvy millennials” and brings them art and luxury goods categorized in the middle market.

Given recent controversies about the definition of the “middle market” from anything between values of $5,000 to $5 million - one could consider the middle market for the purposes of this article as any works that are originals by an important artist, but maybe artists that have been forgotten by the records, more emerging artists or artists who have less auction history records. This is an “underutilized” market that has great room for growth, especially with the dominant auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s handling so many of the high-end sales. This may be true - just last month Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening sale reached £128 million, and Sotheby’s Contemporary sales reached £125 million. But, one does need to remember that all the existing brick-and-mortar auction houses are also competing for online shoppers of art & collectibles, so it promises to be an interesting space to watch over the coming years.

“Paddle8 was founded in 2011 to fill the gap between brick-and-mortar auction houses and e-commerce, essentially bringing the trust and security of transacting high-value works of art with the accessibility of say an eBay platform…. We are committed to making Paddle8 an ever-improving experience for our consignors, clients, and non-profit auction partners. We are also committed to using technology as a vehicle for making Paddle8 a more valuable business as we continue to expand our client base and product categories.”

They are able to streamline the collecting process for consignors and collectors by keeping fees low and without taking possession or displaying any of the works or luxury goods (greatly reducing their overhead costs). This makes Paddle8 an ideal auction house for young collectors or just someone starting to get into collecting. The great thing about the middle market is the potential to connect and find works from emerging artists whose prices haven’t yet skyrocketed or rediscover artists who are missing from the art history books for one reason or another. The mid-range market is a market that requires less financial commitment which allows new collectors who may not know the direction they want their collection to go to take risks as they find and develop their taste. Paddle8 see art collecting as a personal investment of both money and passion which sets it apart from other high asset purchases young and tech savvy collectors consider.

“To us, it's all about the story behind the artwork, the context of the rare piece, the uniqueness of the item that makes it a coveted collectible.”

Paddle8’s vision for the future is to be the leading online marketplace which allows their clients to seamlessly manage a variety of asses within their safe and cost-effective platform - no small task by any stretch. Interestingly, they also believe blockchain technology plays a significant role in their objectives being realized. Can this technology be the differentiator that helps an online-only auction house dominate such a competitive market?

So, what does Art + Tech mean to Paddle8? In their words, it means the “innovation and democratization of art”. They appreciate how accessible art has come since art and technology have evolved over the last ten years and are excited to be a part of that trend.

“Art has for so long been a somewhat elitist field that has now become much more accessible and at times even mainstream, which is wonderful to see. Art seeping into everyday consumption is truly the future, and it is thanks, in large part, to technology.”