Etienne Verbist: Who are you and why did you create the platform?
Francesco Gibbi: I am an eclectic art collector and expert in 18th century Neoclassical etchings, including the inspiring Views of Rome by the Architect G.B. Piranesi. In 2015, understanding the increasing investment opportunities offered by the art auction market and conscious of the need for more transparency and efficiency in the art business, I founded the online portal for Worldwide Auctioning: Lot-Art.com. My intention was to enhance the role of fine art investment as an effective portfolio diversification in volatile financial markets.
I earned a Master Degree in International Management and then specialized in International Affairs. Now, after more than 15 years of financial and management roles in International Organizations, I am sharing my expertise as Alternative Investment Advisor, believing the best investment should bring to its owner something more than the opportunity of a sound financial return, like the feeling of beauty and tangible ownership.
If stocks can be traded on the financial markets, artworks can be traded at auction houses. Art collecting is an investment and follows similar rules to most common financial products, it is just more rewarding in terms of emotional feelings and less volatile in terms of economic value, especially if proper diversification strategies are followed, for example including contemporary art, watches / jewelery and old masters in the portfolio. Leveraging on sound expertise, auctions are the best source of good deals to any collector looking for alternative investment opportunities. I warmly recommend any investor to consider diversifying their portfolio with tangible art-related assets.
Francesco Gibbi Founder of LOT-ART.com with Etienne Verbist at BRAFA 2018
Computer Version Lot-Art
Auction houses worldwide
EVB: Why do you do what you do?
FG: For many years I’ve been buying art at auction and looking for the best deals among the catalogues of auction houses around the world. Tired of spending hours repeating the same searches on several websites, I created Lot-Art.com, a free platform for searching auction’s lots worldwide from a single place. Its mission is to make worldwide auctioning more effective, transparent and time efficient for bidders. Lot-Art is completely free to use for bidders and also for auction houses who want to list their sales.
With an average of 400,000 lots available in the Upcoming section every day, Lot-Art.com is the world largest auction browsing portal, where collectors, dealers and art enthusiasts can find the most comprehensive, up to date list of auction items online, covering the full cycle of an auction from Live to Sold and Aftersale.
Providing direct links to the most reputable auction houses & bidding platforms worldwide, the key advantage for the user is the opportunity to receive a complete overview of the worldwide art auction market up to a month ahead, from a single portal, avoiding repetitive searches on different websites and saving precious time for any eclectic collector who is interested in a wide range of artists, fashion brands, jewelry makers, watches and collection items. Loggedin users can also save preferred lots in their Wish List and receive an email reminder before the auction date.
The difference between Lot-Art.com and the other online auction platforms is in the more advanced browsing services - such as allowing multiple keywords searches. These can also be saved as "personal saved searches" and in 1 click you will be able to run up to 35 searches at once, or if preferred, receive an email alert about the availability of new items matching the searches. This can result in big time saving and higher satisfaction for the user.
Furthermore, Lot-Art enable users to browse unsold lots in what is stil the largest Aftersale section online. In the Sold section, users will find historical price information recorded at auction. This is a very useful indication of the actual value of an item before a bid is finalized.
Tablet Version Lot-Art
EVB: What’s your goal?
FG: My goal is to stimulate investment in Fine Art-related assets as an effective portfolio diversification strategy. On one hand, this will avoid the high volatility affecting financial markets, and on the other it will help gain the higher personal reward related to history, the beauty and the ownership of a piece of art.
I believe in the vital role of auctions for enabling the trade in art and collectibles. Lot-Art occupies a pivotal role: it allows enhanced price transparency and efficiency in the auction market by enabling collectors to reach an all-round view of the world of auctions from a single portal.
EVB: What impact will your platform have on the art market?
FG: First of all, bringing all the different factors involved in both the demand and supply side will increase the efficiency in the market, which will make it more effective to invest in art and collectibles. Furthermore, as a comprehensive and interactive database, Lot-Art will be able to reduce the substantial degree of asymmetric information in the art market.
The goal of Lot-Art is to build a one-stop-service cluster, able to increase the value of the market, reducing some of its barriers and opening it up to a wider audience. As a multisided platform, we facilitate interactions and transactions between parties.
Computer Version Lot-Art
EVB: How do you think gallerists will react to your platform?
FG: We will soon include listing services for selected art galleries, but for the moment, we have focused on interacting with auction houses and becoming the world’s largest auction browsing portal.
Auction houses appreciate the targeted traffic they can get by listing their catalogue on Lot-Art. Indeed, visitors have already learned about the lots and they click directly on action-buttons, like “bid” or “contact”. In other words, we are not redirecting any bored people who are slowly clicking around the net. Rather, we are sending our clients real bidders and buyers - people who are highly interested in their products. That’s what auction houses are really looking for. Normally, businesses pay for Google or other professional services to get this type of accurately targeted audience, while we do it for free. At the same time, if auction houses want to boost their visibility, we can offer dedicated premium services specifically developed to enhance the visibility of auction catalogues. These include featuring a sale on our home page (in the Auction Highlights section), sending regular email alerts to our extensive network of collectors who have specific searches saved, highlighting an interesting sale with dedicated posts on our social media pages (LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook) or creating an article for our Art & Auctions Blog.
EVB: How does the LOT-ART platform work?
FG: Lot-Art specializes in providing advanced listing and searching services to collectors & dealers, offering the largest database of Upcoming and Aftersale lots, together with direct links to the most reputable auction houses worldwide. On Lot-Art, bidders can save favorite lots to their wish list and receive an email reminder before the sale. They can also create personal saved searches to receive email alerts about new lots, or browse aftersale lots, contact auction houses for information and even be redirected to their website for direct bidding.
Listing on Lot-Art is free of charge both for collectors and auction houses. We do not implement a pay-per-click policy. On top of this, we offer a premium services to interested auction houses which does incur a fee. Premium services range from sending customized email alerts to our extensive network of collectors, highlight specific sales, promoting auction catalogues with dedicated posts on our social media pages (LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook) or placing articles on our Art & Auctions Blog.
We will also be adding new services soon: a consignment service for collectors to auction houses and listings from selected art galleries worldwide together with a competitive art advisory service. There are many Alternative Investment Opportunities to be found at auction. We will assist HNWI and collectors with sourcing and acquiring quality art for their collections, a residential project or just to answer their strategy of portfolio investment diversification. We will be able to help people find that special artwork they want, whilst making sure it’s also a good purchasing deal and investment.
Upcoming lot, tablet version Lot-Art
Sold lot, tablet version Lot-Art
Aftersale lot, tablet version Lot-Art
EVB: What is your dream project?
FG: My dream is to make Lot-Art an efficient and synergic cluster of services for art collectors to allow them to find everything they need to optimize their art investment experience: a state of the art search system combined with the world’s largest aggregator of art auctions, an efficient consignment service and a competitive art advisory program, all in one portal. Further more, as we are committed to providing art enthusiasts with quality content about the most interesting upcoming Auction sales, the most intriguing Sold and Aftersale lots, as well as the trendy events happening in the Art World, we have added the Art & Auctions Blog.
EVB: What role does the artist have in society?
FG: For me, the main role of the artist is to inspire people with their artworks, make them dream, make them think, generate feelings and a offer stimulus for life.
EVB: What do you dislike about the art world?
FG: The need to constantly watch out for fakes in the market. Auction houses should do more to build a sustainable feeling of trust with the buyer, offering clear and straightforward refund policies in case an artwork is proven to be something different than what was described in the catalogue. It would also help if auction houses would specialize in a specific and narrow range art categories. This would build trust amongst clients thanks to their expertise. Nowadays, the high potential return of purchasing at auction is balanced by the higher investment risk unless you can leverage deep expertise. This is the service gap that Lot-Art wants to fill with its upcoming Art Advisory service.
EVB: What role does art funding have?
FG: Funding art is like giving life to your dreams. The satisfaction of consigning a work of art to an artist and see it coming to reality has no real price.
EVB: What research do you do?
FG: We have worked hard to make the most agile and accurate multi-search engine. We are proud of the results, but we are always looking for new improvements to stay ahead of the curve too. A consistent part of our research effort is dedicated to identifying some of the key features and average performance of every auction item category (art, wine, fashion, jewelry, old master, design, etc) and doing that accurately to effectively orient the decisional process of an investor. Another challenge would be to learn what each visitor likes and how they behave on Lot-Art pages, with the aim of showing them more lots related to their specific interests.
EVB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
FG: Don’t buy what you don’t know unless you are aware of the investment risk and ready to face the consequences. Expertise is the winning word in the art investing business, either you gain it yourself with time and blood or you can rely on a market expert like Lot-Art to do it for you.
EVB: What would you have done differently?
FG: I might have searched for investors and business angels at an earlier stage to be able to initiate the process of scale up faster, but on the other hand, doing it all in house definitely increased our know-how of the market exponentially. Looking at the tremendous results we achieved with a small but united team makes me more proud of the outcomes of Lot-Art.
Mobile Version Lot-Art
EVB: How do you create the interaction?
FG: We create interaction by providing the different stakeholders with a new (virtual) space, or infrastructure, where connecting is easy and efficient. We had to create the tools and features able to make such space valuable and worthy for the parties involved. Interaction is fostered by our accurate search engine, the possibility given by linking directly via the auction page, or by creating wish lists, saved searches and making direct inquiries to the auctions’ teams. The consignment service will facilitate the interactions between collectors – auctions even further as it will show how art can also be a liquid asset.
99% of our product is created in-house: search engine, blog, email system, consignments, account management, crawlers, etc. That makes us able to interlink everything in a fast and efficient way.
Items are linked with other similar/related lots in the upcoming, sold and aftersale sections, to increase the possibility of finding exactly what you are looking for and to give an indication of its actual market value based on past auction results. We are working hard and keeping our minds open to be able to spot any possible valuable connection and interaction. There is always room for innovation and novelty in what we do.
Mobile Version Lot-Art
EVB: What are the results?
FG: People get used to the speed, efficiency and ease-of-use of Lot-Art’s search engine. That’s why they come back: we’ve witnessed increases in traffic volume, number of registrations, as well as the amount of customized emails and clicks.
We are happy to see that customers can carry out their routine searches quickly. This allows them to save time and use it to explore a few new pieces, maybe the ones that are suggested to them by the platform based on their related search. We’ve also heard that our users tend to spend more time reading art news, investment news and researching their field of interest in great detail. That is what our blog is for. Before Lot-Art they had to struggle more just to find the right item itself, navigating and getting used to all the different sites and blogs. With our one-stop platform, they have more time left to enjoy.
EVB: How do you measure results?
FG: We try to use hard numbers and data to analyze everything we do. That helps us to find a common ground to compare different trends. The KPIs we use include evaluation of email performance, Bid On the lot’s page, item-view trends, registrations and search attributes as words typed or recurrent combination of them.
EVB: How do you measure the effect?
FG: More traffic coming to the platform; more people believing in art investment as a solid alternative to the financial markets.
EVB: Why participate in your LOT-ART project?
FG: Leveraging on sound expertise, auctions are the best source of good deals to any collector looking for alternative investment opportunities aside from the volatile financial markets. I warmly recommend any investor to diversify his portfolio with tangible, art-related assets. With its advanced search engine and the world’s largest auctions’ aggregator, and Lot-Art is the best tool for cost-effective investment decision making in any form of valuable art.
Quote from MutualArt article, JANUARY 18, 2018, on the upcoming auction sale of the David Rockfeller collection: “David and Peggy Rockefeller clearly had a keen eye for collecting, making greater returns on their artistic investments than their considerable shares in the stock market. However, Rockefeller maintained that financial return was never the main guiding force in their pursuits, privileging instead the aesthetic pleasure they would gain from each piece.“
EVB: What Social Media do you use?
FG: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin (above 15,300 followers): https://www.linkedin.com/in/lot-art-worldwide-auctioning-made-easy-308a59108/
EVB: On which segment is your activity or platform based within the segmentation of the crowd economy?
FG: I would say #11 Mass Collaboration. Currently, we are working to create a great online community, acting as an aggregator with the aim of facilitating the commerce of art and collectibles. Our bargaining power (translation of the value we are able to add) is directly linked to the relative dimension, the dynamism and the quality of this community. To develop such features, we are expanding and adding new services and they will leverage different aspects of the crowd economy.
LOT-ART is the platform for searching auction’s lots worldwide from a single place. Join us today on for the best auctions browsing experience!
Image on top: Francesco Gibbi Founder | LOT-ART.com (portrait by Bastiaan Woudt)
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