Wellington Partners, Reid Hoffman and Sherry Coutu invest in Artfinder, the LastFM of art

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Hey Europe, the Founder Institute deadline is approaching (selected ladies can attend for free)

Pan-european VC Wellington Partners, together with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and angel investor Sherry Coutu have invested in hot new UK startup Artfinder, which is setting out to the ‘the LastFM’ for the global art world, letting people catalogue and follow the art they love.

The first-round funding – which is undisclosed – was led by Wellington (which has invested in Xing, Qype, Spotify, Livebookings, Adconion and others), while Hoffman invested via the Greylock Discovery Fund, their seed fund (Greylock’s main Fund XIII, invested in in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pandora and Groupon among others). Sherry Coutu, best known in the UK as founder of Interactive Investor International (which went public) and serial Angel, will act as Chairman of the company.

Artfinder has partnered with galleries, libraries, museums and artists worldwide to build an extremely comprehensive online catalogue of fine art featuring over 250,000 works from over 400 institutions. I’ve seen the demo and it’s pretty amazing – and you can too as the site goes live today.

Users create their own ‘art gallery’, collect favourite artworks, and share them with their friends via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Although this sounds like an obvious move, believe me, finding the art and dealing with all the galleries in question is a real barrier to entry which Artfinder appears to have cracked.

It’s also partnering with museums, galleries and artists to create create discovery and marketing apps for smartphones and tablet devices like the iPad. Artfinder will look georgeous on a Retina screen.

The revenue model is from the sales of apps, original artworks and print-on-demand items such as posters and postcards, and the startup has cut rev share deals with museums, libraries, artists and galleries.

The team is also pretty awesome, comprising of founders Spencer Hyman, previously COO of Last.fm; Chris Thorpe, formerly of the Guardian and CTO of Mind Candy; James Aylett former CTO of Tango Zebra; and Paul Pod, CEO of TIOTI. They have drawn heavily on their contacts to bring in former CTOs and engineers from all those companies so as you can imagine there is heavyweight technology behind all this.