The New York based online company ArtList, not to be confused with the popular London based art information website Artlyst is to shutdown. The startup will now close shop and sink into oblivion, just a year after they were warned by lawyers in the UK that the company was infringing on Artlyst, an internationally established art brand. The demise came after backers pulled the plug on this company that was attempting to sell art online, in a highly competitive and overcrowded market. The website was launched in January 2015 by French entrepreneurs Kenneth Schlenker, Astrid de Maismont, and Maxime Germain. They had so few users that they were unable to sell enough of the inventory to turn a profit.
ArtList was created as an online platform for anonymous secondary market art sales. It imploded after a British art appraisal company declined to sign a deal to acquire the New York-based start-up. It is likely that they discovered the infringement problems with Artlyst, during the due diligence process.
In August 2015 it was brought to the attention of the British publication Artlyst that a company in the US was ringing galleries in London claiming to be from Artlyst. After exploring the legality of another company using the Artlyst name, a letter to cease and desist was issued. Lawyers advised that Artlyst owned the copyright to the name and Artlist was infringing on the brands intellectual property, even though the spelling was slightly different. Five of ArtList‘s employees have now been let go, and the company has moved out of their shared office space at 356 Bowery, says Artnet News.
ArtList is the second failure that Schlenker has been involved with. Gertrude, founded in 2012 by Schlenker, (a former product marketing manager at Google), De Maismont, (head of sales) and Germain (web designer) had already created a series of salons and pop-up exhibitions in upmarket locations. While they appealed to a limited audience, they managed to attract a following of Sotheby’s and Christie’s education students, who were desperate to be a part of the art world elite. The founders ceased active trading as Gertrude and then concentrated their energies on ArtList. The company was never successful in acquiring the artlist.com domain, as a result they used artlist.co. This was not exactly a great value proposition for investors.
There have been a number of other online art websites that have come and gone over the last five years, raising questions about the motivations behind companies that are not committed to art, but are just looking to flip a startup for a quick profit.
Marion Maneker, the person behind Art Market Monitor or AMM, supported ArtList by publishing posts on their website in exchange for sending out a selection of ArtList’s inventory with the AMM newsletter. Although they had a few bites, it could not save this amateurish band of global art-world poseurs!
Photo: Maxime Germain, Artlist head of product; Astrid de Maismont, head of sales; Kenneth Schlenker, CEO image courtesy Twitter
Artbytch © Artlyst 2016