ARTSTAQ is a unique and global platform focused on the Art Market. Soon after its launch, there has been tremendous interest from global media and CEO, Jozef Barta explains why in a personal interview. In addition to connecting technology, internet auctions, and art, ARTSTAQ aims to acknowledge and reward the work done by art curators and critics.

Supporting Young Artists

ARTSTAQ focuses on offering solutions for global art market problems and operates three different technological platforms for Big Data, Rating and Art Exchange. Two of them are primarily focused on global art exchange — artex500.com and bolsaarte.com, where you can trade and invest in artworks. “We are a technology firm offering business-to-business solutions through our platforms. Our goal is to support emerging artists, introduce new financial players to the art world, and most of all to make the art market as transparent as possible,” stresses Jozef.

According to Jozef, being a young artist is difficult these days. The annual revenue from the global art market is about $65 billion – in which $50 billion is spent on works by Monet, Picasso and Koons. “Everyone knows how much a Kupka piece is worth today, but to establish a fair price for a young artist can prove to be extremely difficult. Due to this, investors who want to buy are not buying and artists who want to sell are not selling,” says Jozef. ARTSTAQ defines the standards of each trade using an objective rating system to provide a fair valuation for artworks. This way, the project creates a strong social aspect by supporting young artists and highly qualified galleries.

Artwork as a Profitable Investment

Although the platform has only been launched a few months ago, it features artworks from Latin America and Central Europe and is now beginning to focus on major Western European markets such as The United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. Who is ARTSTAQ targeting? “Certainly we are reaching out to those who have the means and would like something promising to invest in. We are looking at private banks, where up to 97% of their clients are not familiar with art investment. Currently, they do not have enough information to make qualified investment decisions and we want to change this. With this in mind, it’s a tremendous opportunity to educate these clients about the art market’s growth and potential. It’s important to remember that if the financial market collapses, the value of your artwork is largely unaffected,” explains Jozef, who is comfortable discussing these issues. He worked as the CEO of UniCredit Bank Slovakia for 10 years.

Analysts recommend to allocate about 5% of one’s assets into art. ARTSTAQ wants to make the pricing mechanism of new and emerging art transparent enough to eliminate the lack of trust. The Platform has a typical stock exchange interface in order to make it user friendly for the clients who are familiar with trading stocks. “With our art exchange, one does not even need to have the purchased artworks delivered to their homes. Most of the buyers leave the artworks in the system and immediately re-offers them for sale,” says Jozef as he describes the typical behavior of investors on ARTSTAQ’s trading platform: (www.artex500.com)

Two Years of Preparation

At this moment, ARTSTAQ is headquartered in London. The IT center is located in Brno (Czech Republic) and many of its team members work in Prague. Jozef is from Bratislava, Slovakia and the team of 15 members is now spreading to locations such as Dubai, Buenos Aires and Moscow. ARTSTAQ’s unique solution has been proposed by Roman Komárek, who as the founder, is behind all the strategic decisions. “The start was not easy. It took 2 years to create the IT solution. We had to incorporate the rating formulas, trading interface and apply strict security and payment technologies,” explains Jozef. In September 2015, ARTSTAQ received a venture capital investment that covered the cost of running the company. During that time, ARTSTAQ was able to hire its first art critics. “For our database, we are only interested in the best gallerists. And to be honest, we have more applications from artists than we are able to process. At the moment, we have about 50 names and another 60 on the waiting list. They want to gain access to the global market via our platform but we have to be really careful with the selection process. The quality we are bringing has to have an amazing potential for growth,” shares Jozef.

In September 2015, ARTSTAQ received a venture capital investment that covered the cost of running the company. During that time, ARTSTAQ was able to hire its first art critics. “For our database, we are only interested in the best gallerists. And to be honest, we have more applications from artists than we are able to process. At the moment, we have about 50 names and another 60 on the waiting list. They want to gain access to the global market via our platform but we have to be really careful with the selection process. The quality we are bringing has to have an amazing potential for growth,” shares Jozef.

Business Model

Jozef explains the principles of the platform and says, “There are no registration or membership fees. Similar to auction houses, there is a buyer’s commission only applied to each trade, and nothing more. The most complicated part of our system is its ratings, more specifically the algorithms that provide the valuations. They track all available parameters for each artist and artwork in real-time, and compare them to each other. However, there is also soft data which includes the artist’s CV, a list of his/her exhibitions and a lot of other data from catalogues. Each artist is then evaluated by at least 3 independent art critics who must all give an approval. We are offering really progressive and high quality art, and this is why we use so many filters. It begins with selecting highly qualified galleries and having them select their best artists and artworks which are again checked by us. In spite of the strict criteria, we still reject about 40% of offered candidates because we take the selection process very seriously,” demonstrates Jozef.

ARTSTAQ heavily focuses on problem solving and constantly updating its data in real-time. The gallerists are responsible for the constant revision of data but the rating changes all the time as more and more artists join the platform. The Platform contains a significant amount of information including the explication of artworks by the artists. “There is no similar solution in the world. You can find online auctions or e-shops but we are bringing an entirely new model. We are proud that top gallerists, artists and art critics are cooperating with us and are also able to recognize the fairness of the proposed solution,” says Jozef. “We have a chance to renew the tradition of galleries in Central Europe and we believe that many investors will turn into collectors.”