Auctionata is an online auction house and eCommerce company specializing in art, antiques and collectibles. Headquartered in Berlin and with U.S. offices headquartered in New York City, Auctionata operates a network of 250 experts who value, authenticate, and curate art objects. Since opening in February 2012, Auctionata has evaluated and verified over 21,000 pieces of art. Notably, Auctionata's experts discovered a watercolor by Egon Schiele, which was valued at a starting price of $1.3 million (€1 million).
Auctionata was founded in 2012 by Alexander Zacke and Georg Untersalmberger with investment capital provided by the Georg von Holtzbrinck publishing group and the Otto Group. The online shop was launched in September 2012, and Auctionata's first auction was held in December 2012.
On 22 May 2013, Auctionata announced a strategic partnership with Chrono24, a large specialty marketplace for luxury watches. This partnership includes 52 auctions over the next few years.
In February 2013, Auctionata successfully secured $20.2 million through investment firms Earlybird, Bright Capital, Kite Ventures, as well as with previous funders Holtzbrinck Ventures, eVenture Capital Partners, and the Raffay Group.
Technology of live auctions
Prior to every auction, Auctionata provides information for all items to be auctioned on its website. The auction itself is held in a TV-studio, and is streamed live on the internet. The auctions are led by a licensed auctioneer and bids are accepted by phone, online, by absentee bid, as well as from the studio floor. Auctionata uses a system developed and patented by its founders, Zacke and Untersalmberger, allowing it to transmit the live video stream from the auction in real time and without delay. According to the founder, Alexander Zacke, the technology of live auctions primarily was developed to compete with multinational auction houses, including Christie's and Sotheby's. Since potential bidders no longer have to physically attend the auctions, Auctionata's online auctions have been criticized for not promoting the same aura as may be found in traditional auction houses.
In December 2012, Auctionata auctioned off the painting "Roses II", which is attributed to Oskar Kokoschka. Though the painting had been sold to the Bremen tobacco entrepreneur Wolfgang Ritter for 80,000 deutschmarks in 1966 (approx. €151,469 / $204,679 taking into account inflation), and Kokoschka himself wrote a handwritten note of authenticity for the painting, the painting's authenticity was now being questioned by the Oskar Kokoschka Foundation. The painting eventually sold for only $9,975 (€7,500), presumably because Auctionata published the Foundation's critique immediately upon receiving it.
Auctionata also auctioned off a newly discovered watercolor by Egon Schiele. Schiele's painting "Reclining Woman" had been left undiscovered and, according to the former owner, was nearly going to be "dumped in the garbage". The starting price was $1.3 million (€1 million) and bidding closed at $2.4 million (€1,827,250). The "Reclining Woman" is therefore the highest grossing piece of fine art sold at an online auction, beating a work from Andy Warhol's "Flowers" series ($1.3 million).
In June 2013, Auctionata conducted the auctioning of a 1953 Patek Philippe Reference 2499 wristwatch. The auction was participated in globally and the watch eventually sold for $611,000 (€470,000).