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Art.sy, a fine art discovery site, has raised a $1.25 million round of funding from a pretty prominent list of angel investors, most notably Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Jack Dorsey (creator of Twitter and Square), and Wendi Murdoch, the wife of News Corps. founder and CEO Rupert Murdoch. Leading the round was Thrive Capital’s Josh Kushner.
Other investors include Jim Breyer (of Accel), art mogul Dasha Zhukova, Founder Collective, Keith Rabois (executive at PayPal, LinkedIn, Slide and Square), TechStars director David Tisch, Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever, Path co-founder and CEO Dave Morin, and Clickable co-founder and CEO David Kidder.
Previously, Art.sy raised around $160,000 in seed funding.
When it originally launched, the site was simply a place where users could search for and share fine art with each other. You could search for pieces based on its period, style, size, color and price. The site also had an application for Facebook that recommended art to users based on their social graph.
Now, Art.sy is private again and shifting gears to become a bit, well, finer. Founder Carter Cleveland is working on partnerships with high-end art dealers, collectors and galleries to showcase art from up and coming and established artists. To that end, prominent art dealer Larry Gagosian, who owns galleries in New York City, London, Los Angeles, Rome and Athens, has been brought on board as an advisor.
The company, which is aggressively seeking a lead developer as well as a software engineer, VP of Product, and intern, is currently working on an “Art Genome” algorithm, which sounds and feels a lot like Pandora’s “Music Genome.” Where Pandora’s project analyzed musicians, their albums, and their songs to provide relevant recommendations to users, Art.sy’s genome will do the same for fine art.
Focusing on higher-end fine art makes good business sense for Art.sy, because if there’s any money in art, it’s in fine art. Younger audiences won’t spend very much money on paintings or sculptures that a wealthier, older generation will.
Still, it would have been nice to have one elegant, comprehensive source (?) for all things fine art.
The Art.sy makeover is set to be unveiled publicly in the spring of 2011.
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