Sotheby’s may be more than 250 years old, but it’s continuing to keep up with the 21st century with its recent acquisition of Thread Genius, a company founded by former Spotify engineers that uses artificial intelligence to identify collector tastes and offer recommendations.
The purchase further transforms Sotheby’s into a full-service art company, not just a high-end, high-touch auction business. Since early 2016, the New York-based firm has been on a buying spree that has broadened its mandate, purchasing a well-regarded art advisory firm called Art Agency, Partners, as well as Mei Moses Art Indices, a database of 50,000 repeat auction sales, and Orion Analytical, an art conservation firm. Sotheby’s also has a big financial services business.
Creating a unit dedicated to using, analyzing and strategizing with data in a business that has long relied on personal relationships is a “really smart move,” adds Annelien Bruins, CEO, Tang Art Advisory. “I think it’s going to be a much better experience for collectors.”