Art lovers and scholars of strategy will appreciate this new platform, called ARTBnk, as no doubt, there has been an increasing need for innovation in an industry reticent to adopt modern technologies or quantitative approaches.
ARTBnk has delivered and goes a step further using a proprietary algorithm that takes into consideration fundamental indicators of similar works, as well as market performance over time, to provide the first-ever standardized valuations for fine art.
Despite the widespread adoption and use of online platforms to guide in the process of determining a valuation, there have been some significant gaps in the efficiency of those tools and the quality of the underlying data. Searching is a protean subject matter. At times, you may be waylaid due to deprivation of images, misspelled titles or names, and incomplete, patchy information, leaving you to have to speculate when it comes to value. Literature, judgment, asking a Hippo (Highest paid person’s opinion), and analysis are often essential, yet individual views can be subject to bias which may result in a subjective and opinionated outcome.
There has been a need, a cry, even, for something like this for a long time! It is downright exciting to have the ability to discover the true objective value of a work of art within seconds. It’s fascinating to me to see what the art I am working with, or perhaps buying / selling, is worth, by utilizing Artificial Intelligence, image recognition, and regression analysis.
ARTBnk even identifies relevant comparable works that have sold for me, displaying them beautifully on one page. Bingo! Done. One-stop shopping. Thank you, Jamie LaFleur and Co.
I wanted to know more about ARTBnk and connected with Director of Business Development, Justin Oliver. I asked him who could benefit from using ARTBnk. He told me-
“Anyone that makes financial decisions about art. Family offices, estates, conservators, banks, insurance companies, collectors, and art advisors.”
He also told me that when developing ARTBnk, they worked with Professors Michael Moses and Jianping Mei, creators of the Sotheby’s Mei Moses Fine Art Indices, to incorporate an artist’s market performance over time into the underlying valuation algorithms.
Very impressed, I then spoke with Jamie LaFleur (creator/brainchild) of ARTBnk. We talked for over an hour. Being a person that values art regularly, I was delighted to speak with him. Coming from a gallerist/art advisor background, Jamie told me that when he set out to create ARTBnk, he wanted to make people understand that the information is not arbitrary nor subjective. People want to know the objective, fair market worth of their art. ARTBnk is unique in that you don’t have to go to past auction results and then go in and interpret and later try to find the value. One of the most compelling things he imparted on me was-
“You can look up your art with all of the variables, and results will be based on recent auction sales of works with similar characteristics and the compounded annual return of that artist, which gives you the current value.”
Jamie went on to say, “We were able to cleanse the auction sales data and normalize it. Once we were able to do that, we took that data and correlated it explicitly to indicators of value. Collecting the data was very chaotic. Our AI is continuously learning, sorting, and reviewing all works, determining the specific visual and physical characteristics to compare to all other works by each individual artist. We have worked with Professors Mei and Moses, the creators of the Sotheby’s Mei Moses Fine Art Indices, to track markets and how they change over time. You can follow a specific artist’s growth and traction. This analysis allows us to generate the compounded annual return for individual artists. This tracking is vital in adjusting prior sale prices to today’s market which allows us to generate accurate values.”
After using the software myself, I circled back to ARTBnk’s Executive Chairman, Asher Edelman, who initially told me about ARTBnk, and thanked him. I also asked him how is it going with ARTBnk? Asher, who is well known for being non-stop and making me laugh, stated,
“I’m tired. I’m never tired; I’m getting tired. It’s growing, so God damned fast, I’m tired!”
1. Digitize my art collection in my own private space (not public), then admire the beautiful, organized assemblage.
2. Share information on my art (with the ability to choose which aspects of it I would like to) at the touch of a button.
3. Search and track my favorite artists and get updates as they come to auction.
4. Value works in minutes that I am selling for private clients, and keep track of what mine is worth.
5. Most importantly, fear no negotiation.
I have tried many programs, and I usually walk away uncertain with the results, feeling like I missed something. I would scour, pen and paper in hand, then inevitably redo the search with different words and variations of the artist’s name (48 versions of Picasso according to Jamie) and see results with misspelled titles, or missing pictures and information. I would write them all down, determine the median value with my superior math skills, and would still not be 100% sure if it was with the premium or not “?”. Then, get different results shoved in my face from another art collector or advisor I am working with who used the same program! I often wondered or said out loud, “How the heck did you get that? What did you type in?”
Now, I feel confident. I feel like I’ve cleaned the garage, and have everything exactly where I want it. I sit a little taller at my desk and speak more confidently. I have been talking to all of my friends about it, and now they keep asking me, did you look at ARTBnk? I say, of course, and I feel that’s where we are all heading to from now on!