Our Editor – in – Chief spoke with Barnebys Co-founder Christopher Barnekow to find out a little bit about the world’s leading auction search engine. Barnebys is the leading search service and aggregator for art, design, antiques and collectibles. By listing auction houses and art dealers from all around the world on one site, Barnebys makes unique, beautiful and sustainable items accessible to everyone – from art to furniture, wine to cars, jewelry, watches and fashion and much more.
What was the idea behind Barnebys and how has it evolved?
Christopher Barnekow: The concept of Barnebys began when I was looking for a still life oil painting for my newly redecorated kitchen in my country home and didn’t know where to start the search.
I was frustrated with the lack of accessibility in traditional auction houses and dealers. We launched Barnebys in 2011 to make collecting more accessible by offering a centralized online platform for searching the auction market.
Today Barnebys is the number one metasearch service for arts, antiques, and rarities. By listing auction houses and art dealers from around the world, we’re making unique and beautiful items accessible to everybody. We have over a thousand auction houses as clients including Sotheby’s, Phillips, Heritage Auctions, and more. We also have the world’s largest price bank with over 88 million end prices from over 2,000 auction houses. Last year we acquired ValueMyStuff, which is the world’s leading online valuation service.
What types of items can you find on Barnebys and what kind of auction houses and dealers do you work with?
CB: We list over 2,000 auction houses and dealers and you can find everything from fine art to sports memorabilia. The most popular category is watches, but categories like classic cars and wines are also growing, from big houses like Sothebys and Phillips to small provincial family-owned auction houses. We do not list any houses or dealers that are not vetted by us, nor do we allow private individuals to sell directly on our site. The fact that an auction house or dealer is behind the sales guarantees quality in a completely different way than peer to peer.
You just launched a new site. What can users now expect?
CB: Our new site offers the best search technology in the industry and an updated design that is easy to navigate.
What design trends are collectors gravitating towards right now?
CB: Today’s buyers are younger and are looking to buy and sell objects that reflect their lifestyle rather than a special interest or collecting focus. We are now seeing more shoppers rather than collectors.
The second-hand market is growing exponentially. What is the reason behind this and what is to come?
CB: The greatest change will be for the users, who for the first time have true access to this great market of unique items. New technologies and search engines like Barnebys are helping the industry grow.
What is a word of advice for new collectors who are just starting to acquire art and design?
CB: Start searching on Barnebys. There is a whole new world of amazing objects at your fingertips.
Barnebys are supporting modern and contemporary designers and dealers ahead of the London Design Festival. Currently, they are running a wonderful campaign “future collectables and antiques”.