Global Art and Antiques A Click Away with Barnebys


Imagine a search platform that brings together all of the world’s auctions into one place. Sound intriguing? Adrienne Jannsen navigates the online world of  Barnebys, and discovers how global art, antiques and design collectibles are just a bidding click away.

It’s fair to say that the rarefied world of art and antiques has undergone some dramatic changes of late. Until recently, flipping through a catalogue required not only the sleight of hand dexterity to get one’s hands on one, but a reasonable knowledge of the industry along with it. Auction houses and dealers have long time put their efforts into wooing qualified audiences; niche groups compartmentalised into ‘category specific’ cliques. Diving into a free-flow pool of opportunistic bidders was unheard of. But times have changed. With increasing numbers of individuals and enthusiasts now buying and selling collectibles online, finding innovative ways to connect with this new market has, not surprisingly, played into the hands of venturesome entrepreneurs.

One company leading the charge is Barnebys. Since early 2011, the company based out of Stockholm, has been signing up auctioneers all over the world to appear on its platform. Founding Partners Pontus Silverstorpe and Christopher Barnekow have come up with an inspired solution - making all auctions more available by gathering them in one place.

By opening up the market, art, design and antiquities are now just a click away and accessible for everyone to enjoy. “We’re like Kayak; a meta-search engine,” explains CEO and co-founder Christopher Barnekow. “You don’t do transactions on Barnebys; we only deliver traffic and branding. What we offer is the world’s largest search service and the ability to search among millions of realised prices from finished auctions.”

Listings fall into item categories – such as art, furniture, jewellery, silver and gold – which places, what’s to be sold in the foreground, and the auctioneer selling the item as secondary information. Some of Barneby’s customers include recognisable houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Fellows, Philips and others. There’s even a free database of sold items and the prices paid by buyers, as well as an appraisal platform.

On the horizon, the company is looking to sign up more US-based auctioneers, which is proving easier than in Europe. “It seems like American auctioneers are more open to new ways of marketing themselves.”
With nearly one new auction house a day connecting to the site, individuals can search from more than 300,000 unique objects listed at any single time. Some of the most searched for categories are watches, autos, furniture, antiquities and art, with items listed with a range of prices, brands and designs.

To strengthen the value proposition, Barnebys also offer a dedicated editorial section and intimate portraits of industry experts, like the founder of online wristwatch publication Hodinkee Ben Clymer and artist Wangechi Mutu, who share their passions and interests from their respective field of expertise.

Concludes Pontus: “We’re positive that our concept - where the auction house and dealers are at the forefront and maintain their customer relationship - will go from strength to strength. So far – so very, very good.”

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