Interview with Anne-Hélène Decaux

Paris, 19 September 2012. Art Media Agency (AMA).

Anne-Hélène Decaux is the communication manager of Art Viatic, first artworks selling and purchasing platform founded by Antoine Van de Beuque. Art Media Agency has met her in order to know more about this innovation revolutionary for the art market.

Art Media Agency (AMA): Could you introduce yourself?

Anne-Hélène Decaux (AHD): My name is Anne-Hélène Decaux. I am an art historian, specialised in modern and contemporary art, and I am currently in charge of communication for Art Viatic, the first private selling and purchasing platform of the art market.

AMA: Could you introduce Antoine Van de Beuque, founder of Art Viatic ?

AHD: Antoine Van de Beuque is the president and founder of Art Viatic. After a 35 years experience as a private dealer, notably as vice president of the Wildenstein gallery from 1991 to 2001, he started thinking about the art market issues and decided to go into the Web about two years ago. Today we are proud to present the result of our work: a new model for the art market. Art Viatic is now available online, and for the first time gives purchasers and sellers from all over the world access to a catalogue of exceptional artworks and allows them to negotiate online, without any intermediary, for their own interest, safely and confidentially.

AMA : What is the structure of Art Viatic? How many people work for you, and in which fields?

AHD: Antoine Van de Beuque gathered around him a team of experts, specialists, researchers (notably Martine Heudron, who took part in the redaction of catalogues raisonnés of Gauguin and Marquet), developers, graphic designers and legal consultants. We all work together on this ambitious project, trying to think over every detail in order to offer many functionalities and improve browsing, giving much importance to safety.

AMA: You insist on the fact that sellers are individuals… Why would a collaboration with galleries and traders alter your approach ?

AHD: Our network of collectors covers the whole world. Our platform is intended to private collectors as well as traders, artists or institutions (banks, foundations, investment funds) and allows them to sell their artworks instantaneously and make direct relations with sellers to negotiate online, without any exterior pressure and at lesser cost (3% purchaser, 3% seller).

AMA: You try to create a selective “club” through the subscription fees and the cost of the artworks proposed (150.000 € at least). Why not opening your project to a wider public ?

AHD: Art has became an object of investment, of heritage diversification. While the markets are escaping control (interest rates are historically low and inflation is rampant), investers tend to prefer tangible values: gold, diamonds, raw material, real estate, artworks. But not all artworks. Only exceptional artworks can survive trends and fashion, artworks whose essential quality seems a guarantee. This is why we chose to present only exceptional artworks, estimated over 150.000 €. Not only expensive artworks, but certified and authenticated artworks. All the pieces presented in our catalogue are indexed in catalogue raisonnés and guaranteed by an authenticity certificate. Our specialists analyse and check every information available, consulting both the Art Loss Register and the Interpol database to make sure the origin of each piece is entirely clear.

AMA: As for any new project, the existing players certainly expressed some fears?

AHD: Our economic system is entirely different: our platform hosts private selling, not auctions, and specialise in a very particular field of the market: exceptional modern and contemporary artworks, estimated over 150.000 €. We connect directly purchasers and sellers, and offer them the services of a top quality website. Our specialists guide our members all the way, from the estimation of their works to the organisation of the transport through the access to a safe negotiation interface and a secure account to guarantee their transactions.

AMA : What future developments (in terms of business and technology) do you wish for the website?

AHD: We are now willing to develop elements linked with other artistic fields, other periods, but always exclusively in the art world. Geographically, we are developing firstly in French-speaking and Anglo-Saxon countries, but then we will focus on emerging countries, China, Latin America, the Middle East… where the new purchasers are.

AMA: It seems art is arousing more and more projects.  What do you think of innovation in the art market?

AHD: The art market has become global, new collectors have entered the scene and the generalisation of the Internet engaged an irreversible process. In this time of Web 2.0, online sales are increasing, because they allow a greater proximity between supply and demand, and a direct transaction, in real time and at a lesser cost.

However, instead of getting simpler, the market has become more and more complex. Intermediaries are multiplying, prices rarely appear, commissions can seem prohibitive and registration unsecured. In this context, we decided to make this risked bet: to propose an entirely new platform on which collectors might dialogue safely, purchase and sell directly artworks worthy of a New York evening auction, without any exterior pressure and at a lesser cost.