In 1999 the French luxury-goods mogul Bernard Arnault made a massive plunge into the then oh-so-fashionable internet sector, pouring over €500 million (£308 million; $437 million) into his privately owned investment fund, Europ@web. Among the toys he bought were chunks of the online auctioneers QXL, Aucland (now sold to eBay), iCollector (see below), the French art information site Artprice.com, eLuxury.com and, more pessimistically, Liquidation.com. Things haven't gone so well in cyberspace since then, and plans to float Europ@web have been shelved. Mr Arnault has seen his €30 million (£18 million; $26 million) holding in QXL dwindle to under €3 million; eLuxury is though to be struggling to sell top brands to the surf-and-click brigade. Europe@web has now closed seven of its nine offices and lost most of its investment staff.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘Bernard Arnault retreats from the web...'