Interview with Paddle8′s cofounder Alexander Gilkes

By On May 26, 2012 In Art, Interview

Paddle8 is a company innovating the way in way in which we purchase fine art. On the front end, it provides art collectors an easy and extremely high-end way of viewing and purchasing art without having to leave their bedrooms. While on the back end, Paddle8 provides galleries, foundations, and fairs with a transformative suite of tools that enhance the efficiency of traditional processes like managing inventory and making transactions.

I sat down for breakfast at a boutique hotel in Los Angeles with one of the company’s cofounders, Alexander Gilkes, to ask him some questions about Paddle8. He’s a rather tall Englishman who fully believes in what the company is doing. And since he’s a contemporary art collector himself, he has a keen and cutting eye for how to truly progress the way in which we thought about collecting, purchasing, and even viewing art. All of the art featured above and below are pieces that are currently available for purchase through Paddle8.

“Icare” by Henri Matisse, 1947– Limited Edition Print – Image courtesy of Slims Reed Gallery

Why are some of the prices on the site only available upon request?

Galleries have the right to choose whether or not they want to display the prices of their available works. And whilst most do list their prices, some choose to opt out. In which case, it is actually really simple to contact the gallery through Paddle8 in order to find out the price.

“Portrait 1″ by Natalie Frank, 2011 – Oil on Board – Image courtesy of Fredericks & Freiser

What is Paddle8’s goal?

Paddle8 aims to enhance access for a global collecting community to a curated selection of leading art galleries and museums – via insider opinions, educational content, streamlined acquisition tools, and a platform that transcends the constraints of time and geography. On the back end, we aim to offer galleries and museums robust tools to manage their inventory virtually, through our automated services.

You could imagine a scenario with an art dealer sitting next to a collector in a wi-fi furnished airplane, selling the work via paddle8, and having it seamlessly shipped, insured, installed, and paid for through the system.

Isn’t it dangerous to spend so much money online?

There’s a lot of vigilance that goes into our system. Furthermore, we worked with senior payment gateway specialists and lawyers to create our patented transaction system.

“Swatches, Riley 1-4″ by Elaine Reichek, 2007 – Digital Embroidery on Linen – Image courtesy of Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery

How has working with all of the art fairs been?

When we worked with NADA in 2011, we gave each gallery its own virtual space on Paddle8 that was released to our members a week before the fair actually opened. The response was so great that most of the galleries were actually receiving requests for works before the fair had even opened.

Do the prices on the site include shipping?

The shipping cost isn’t calculated in until after your offer has been accepted and you enter your address.

“B&W” by Robert Overby, 1981-83 – Oil on Canvas – Image courtesy of Fredericks & Freiser

Can any art lover join the site?

Anyone can apply to join the site, but they have to be approved by Paddle8’s membership committee to actually be let in. We want to build a community of great collectors, so as best as possible filter the applications accordingly.

What percentage of each transaction does Paddle8 make?

We have a sliding scale – with exhibitions it’s 12% and with art fairs it’s 4%.

What’s the most expensive piece on the site?

There is a piece by Warhol for over a million dollars on the site, but there are also many works in the low thousands and even hundreds.

“Stranger Than Paradise-Grey” by Yang Jiechang, 2011 – Ink and Mineral Colors on Silk – Image courtesy of Tang Contemporary

What are some of your favorite works of art on the site right now?

I’m a big fan of Tom Sachs, who just unveiled a new work with Creative Time at The Armory. Also, David Benjamin Sherry and Hanna Lyden both have some great pieces, but I’m always exploring the site for new works of art I want to add to my own collection.

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