Imagine bidding more than $US 2.3 million for an original watercolour by Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele, not over the telephone, nor as an absentee bidder, but through a website. One lucky bidder acquired Schiele’s Reclining Woman two years ago through Auctionata. The Berlin-based start-up is disrupting the mid-range market that falls between eBay and traditional houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s with live, streaming auctions of art, jewellery, collectibles and other items.

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Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Launched in 2013, by Austrians Alexander Zacke, with a 25-year pedigree in the auction business, and CTO Georg Untersalmberger, Auctionata recently raised $US 45 million ($58.7 million) in a round of funding.

Zacke came up with the concept after years of working at a traditional auction house.

“There was a very high-end, traditional market and a very low-end, peer-to-peer market. The problem with the mid-market – which is, by far, the largest chunk of the market – is that peer-to-peer doesn’t work, because people don’t want to risk their money beyond a certain point. And that price point is very low – in the hundreds, if that much.”

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