In an entertainingly withering Market Note published Thursday October 27, Skate’s performs some fascinating analysis on the numbers underlying Demand Media’s purchase of Saatchi Art (formerly Saatchi Online) in August of this year.
Discounting Saatchi Art as focussing on “low-end contemporary art and prints” Skate’s takes its numbers from Demand Media’s recent financial disclosure on Saatchi Art – itself published against a background of Demand Media’s “tanking” share price.
As a warning to any investor rushing into the overheated art startup market, Skate’s finds that the rate of cash burn in Saatchi Art was $4.2m in the first six months of 2014 and that Saatchi Art’s selling shareholders sold the company “as an alternative to putting more cash into the loss-making business […] losing on average 75 cents on each dollar invested on a cash basis.” (If Demand Media’s share price recovers, they’ll recoup their investment.) Questioning Saatchi Art’s fundamentals, the note finds that although the business’s top line grew by 142% to $2 million in 2014, its losses grew at a faster rate to $4 million.
It’s perfectly possible that Skate’s forensic analysis may miss the potential return of Saatchi’s plans to build the premier global contemporary art sales platform. Demand Media certainly hopes so, and time will tell. The Market Note concludes, with heavy irony:
Given these numbers, Demand Media clearly has a lot of faith in Saatchi Art. Skate’s is thrilled to see the turnaround miracle.
- Saatchi Online: Graceful Exit, Miserable Returns (Skate’s Art Market Notes, Issue #105)
The increasingly co-dependent relationship between the online and offline art worlds reaches another milestone on April 2nd, when Saatchi Art (formerly Saatchi Online) holds its first “offline exhibition.”
Titled Continental Shift (a nod to Saatchi Art’s transition of its operations from London to Los Angeles over the last couple of years) the show exhibits works from the Saatchi Art website in the Edition and Print Gallery at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The collection will also be available through Saatchi Art online, and represented artists will receive 70% of any exhibition sales (the same as Saatchi Art’s online commission).
The online art market is becoming increasingly commoditized. Employing the Saatchi Gallery as a shop window for Saatchi Art – even though both operations are now only connected by name – is a valuable differentiator for Saatchi Art and its artists. Exhibition of artworks for sale online in brand name galleries could even create a ‘halo effect‘ so it won’t be a surprise if other platforms emulate Saatchi Art by creating alliances with established bricks-and-mortar galleries. But it would be a supremely ironic one.
- Young art without Saatchi (New York Times)
- Saatchi Art’s Inaugural Exhibition Opens At The Saatchi Gallery, London (Yahoo!/PR Newswire)
- Saatchi Online (@SaatchiOnline) combines curation, technology, and a global brand to “democratize” art sales (Art Market Technology)