What is the concept behind London Trade Art, and why did you set it up?
The concept behind London Trade Art was to democratise art investment, in order to give everyone the opportunity to become a co-owner of high-valued artworks. We wanted to do this by modernising the art system through the application of innovative technologies, which would enable us to expand the art audience and make the art market more transparent.
I set it up following an in-depth analysis of the art and financial markets, comparing their similarities and differences. The financial market historically evolved in a very similar way, with the main difference being that the art market had been reluctant to adopt technological advancements which caused entry barriers and trading inefficiencies that don’t meet the needs of a new generation of high tech-friendly collectors
Together with the other co-founder, Andrea Seminara, hedge fund manager of our main partner, Redhedge Asset Management LLP, we combined our expertise and know-how in both the industries, in order to reproduce some characteristics of the financial trading system and support the digitalisation of a market which was lagging behind
As a company at the forefront of digitalisation of the art market, what are some of the most innovative changes you have seen in the last 5 years?
Some of the most innovative changes we’ve observed are: Online art experiences (e.g. Google Arts and Culture, online art games, etc.); new technologies, such as as VR and AI to engage a new audience through alternative tools, the expansion of online galleries, fairs, auctions, museum experiences (this was mostly Covid-related); and the recent use of NFTs and blockchain to make art investments more transparent and secure.
Where do you see the industry heading in the next 5 years?
We believe that the process of digitalisation will continue, but that it will never substitute physical experiences. Technologies will help to bring more awareness to the industry and to make art a wider, more secure and less opaque investment. Finally, we will hopefully soon return to visiting museums and fairs; however, we may switch to buying art pieces via our mobiles and receiving a NFT secured through blockchain technology
How are collectors habits changing through technology?
Thanks to technology, collectors habits are changing in both their experience of and investment in art: online viewings and marketplaces are spreading. The online world doesn’t look like a thread any longer. In fact, the share of online sales has increased from 9% of total sales by value in 2019 to 25% in 2020. This represents a huge opportunity. In particular, Covid-19 forced art lovers to engage more with technology, in order to experience or invest in art. Nowadays, it is a very common practice to buy artworks online or to visit a virtual exhibition on a gallery’s website.
This past year you have put a lot of energy and investment into your online strategy, and a new website - what were your motivations for doing this?
As with most art professionals during the pandemic, we had to rethink our strategy, converting some of our physical events into digital initiatives, in order to allow our customers and anyone else to enjoy our services. As part of our diversified offer, we created webinars, we rebuilt our website and we have launched our first co-ownership project online to support our commitment to make art more accessible.
Now the new site is launched, what will be your new focus for the business?
Our focus for the business will continue to be our online gallery, in parallel with our new Pooling Investment project, which is Lapo Simeoni’s incredible work, titled ‘25.000 euro’, and is purchasable with NFTs. We will also be continuing to populate our online magazine with industry-relevant articles and promoting our upcoming initiatives, which will include an e-book and podcast on art evaluation. Our next step is to release a secondary market, where the shares of a selected portfolio of artworks will be exchangeable. It will function similar to the stock market, whereby customers will be able to buy and sell their art shares online.