David Zwirner invests as Paddle8 grows fast

The dealer David Zwirner is the latest art-world heavyweight to invest in the online auction site Paddle8. Zwirner, who has taken a place on the firm’s board, joins fellow dealer Jay Jopling, the artist Damien Hirst and the luxury investment firm Mousse Partners as a backer of the four-year-old business. To date, Paddle8 has raised $44m, and its co-founder Osman Khan says that it should be a profitable business by early 2017. Revenues from auctions were up 146% to $35.8m in 2014, with $25m recorded for the first half of 2015—although the online-only auction house Auctionata, which was founded in Germany in 2012 and has investors including Bernard Arnault, reported first-half sales equivalent to $39.7m for 2015. Alexander Gilkes, the co-founder of Paddle8, says that the firm will use its latest round of investment to penetrate further in the US and the UK, which he identifies as the major suppliers to the market (demand is dominated by North America and Asia). Paddle8 aims to maintain cutting-edge technology, and its current priority is mobile phone and tablet platforms, Gilkes says. The firm, which targets the $1,000 to $100,000 market, states that its average sales price was up 17% for its for-profit auctions (excluding those carried out for charity) in the past year.