New York City’s Art.sy, which wants to change the way people buy fine art, recently closed a $6 million series A. Peter Thiel personally led the round, with existing investors Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital, Wendi Murdoch, and Dasha Zhukova participating. The startup previously raised $1.25 million a year ago. Eric Schmidt, Jack Dorsey, and Jim Breyer also invested in that seed round.
Art.sy first appeared at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC in May, 2010, but the site still has not launched beyond a small private beta. The company is taking a long-term approach to digitizing the art world, striking deals with top galleries before it opens up so that it can launch with some of the best art in the world. So far, it has deals with 180 galleries in 40 countries. This approach is akin to what Spotify did when it took two years to line up all the record labels before launching in the U.S.
Art.sy is creating a website that makes it easy to browse and discover paintings and other fine art, and connect prospective art collectors with galleries. The art world is a high-end industry which has resisted the encroachments of the Web. Art.sy hopes to change that by making art more accessible to a broader class of consumers who are currently ignored by the art establishment. The company will use the funds to hire more people (it is currently looking for a top-notch Web designer and director of museum relations).