With the help of influential investors on both sides of the Atlantic, French advertising mogul Maurice Levy is venturing into the art world.
His new digital platform, “YourArt,” launched yesterday (May 15) with the aim of connecting global artists, gallerists and collectors through social media and artificial intelligence-backed features.
“I have always been interested in art,” Levy, the chairman of Publicis Groupe, the world’s third-largest communications group, told Observer. A prominent art collector, he also previously served as chairman for Paris-based museum Palais de Tokyo from 2003 to 2007 and has long incorporated artwork into advertising campaigns.
Levy, who has wanted to start an art-related project for years, said he was inspired to launch YourArt for the tens of millions of amateur artists who struggle to find an audience. “The vast majority of those people were frustrated to not be in a position to show their work.”
Often referred to as an “advertising guru,” Levy raised 9 million euros ($9.78 million) for the platform through a family and friends funding round which ended on April 30th. “I’m playing the game of a startup,” he said.
Investors from the U.S. include private equity billionaire Henry Kravis, venture capitalist Jim Breyer and Tom Glocer, the former CEO of Thomson Reuters.
Meanwhile, Patrick Drahi, the owner of Sotheby’s and head of telecom group Altice, is also a backer of YourArt, as is Jean-Paul Agon, the former CEO of L’Oreal, and the Decaux family, which controls media company JCDecaux.
How is “YourArt” different from other art platforms?
“We don’t see us as trying to compete or enter into a fight against all the platforms which already exist,” said Levy. “We want to propose something that is extremely different.”
In addition to online portfolios where artists can display their work, YourArt will offer “Metagalleries,” virtual exhibition spaces showcasing art for sale.
The platform also has a feature to create digital museums, “the imaginary museum which everyone has in their own mind,” according to Levy. “Traveling to Florence, London, the Louvre, the Tate Gallery, MoMA, you pick things from there and you make your own museum.”
YourArt will also host editorial content, with video documentaries exploring artists, galleries and conversations with curators and art figures. Guest curators will share a selection of works they have personal connections to on a weekly basis, starting off with Laurence Dreyfuss and Marc Donnadieu.
Three different subscription models are currently offered by YourArt, targeted at professional artists, amateur artists and art collectors with prices ranging from 10 euros ($10) to 25 euros ($27) a month. The higher fees will allow users to upload more content, said Levy, with the lowest tier offering the opportunity to showcase ten works.
YourArt’s revenue will also come from commissions, which are 5 percent for galleries selling through the platform and 10 percent for artists.
The platform already has 22 full-time employees and will test in France for the next few months before moving to other European countries, said Levy, adding that YourArt is planning to eventually enter the U.S. before going global.
Other features in the works include a secondary market, the introduction of NFTs attached to physical works and the use of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to ensure the authenticity and provenance of artwork sold on the platform. YourArt will also eventually include a social network feature for artists, where they can communicate with each other.
“This is a platform which is dedicated to artists and art lovers,” said Levy. “It’s kind of a love letter to them.”