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Urgency is what fuels prolific and successful entrepreneurs. Artworks learnt the hard way meeting Christopher Barnekow for a long and exhausting chat...

3 min read

The story of Barnebys began with Christopher Barnekow, a 40-something adverting entrepreneur, was looking for a still life oil painting for his country home. He got struck by the lack of transparency and high barriers to entry browsing the websites of auction houses. 

In frustration he created Barnebys, a site that makes collecting more accessible by offering a centralised online platform for searching the auction market. Since its inception in 2011, the company has established itself as an international player, gained fame - if not by name - by having almost 1.5 million visitors per month on its website.

Who are you?
Christopher Barnekow…

Where are you and why?
That's a big question.

What are you wearing?
Do you really want to know?

Where do you stop for a coffee on your way to work?
I don’t stop for coffee.

Do you follow routine, what is the first thing that you do popping in at work?
Drink coffee and read the paper.

What does your social media diet consist of?
Wine and dine.

What does your art diet consist of?
I'm on a diet.

Where do we find you during lunch hour?
At the gym.

What would you say was Barnebys defining moment?
When we realised the actual potential.

You’ve headed Barnebys now for a few years. During this period you’ve seen the auction  part of the art world evolving into a mainly click-and-buy model, why hasn’t that happened to the primary art market, yet?
There is nothing as exclusive as art no matter the price tag - it's you personal perspective, the context and the public image. I’d say it's hard to perform a volume-based business model into this specific category although it might work in specific segments.

Toughest nut to crack for Barnebys next year?
Helping the world’s most conservative industry to realise the potential of a digital strategy. You cant fight it - the users want it.

Artworks deals with the primary art market, and you guys deal, mainly, with the secondary. More or less the same products. Despite, they are miles apart in terms of business behavior and experience. Do you have any explanation as to how come?
Well, we’re into the trade of already achieved affection, while Artworks' inventory are there to present and attach this affection to new items, its a much earlier phase of the specific items life journey. It has its different dynamics.

With that said, Christopher politely excuse himself and jumps into another appointment.