Auctionata Wants to Make You a Television Art Star

The search for the perfect online auctioneer.

Auctioneer Nicola Ransom in Auctionata's Berlin studio. Photo: courtesy of Auctionata.


Auctioneer Nicola Ransom in Auctionata's Berlin studio. Photo courtesy of Auctionata.

Auctioneer Nicola Ransom in Auctionata’s Berlin studio.
Photo courtesy of Auctionata.


The art world may be about to produce its first TV star.

Auctionata, the Berlin-based auction house, is preparing to broadcast its first real-time, live-streamed auctions in the United States and is looking for the next Tobias Meyer, the charismatic auctioneer who was a presence in the fine art auction world at Sotheby’s for over a decade.

Casting for the perfect combination of attractive, brainy, and captivating is now underway at Auctionata’s newly acquired New York offices.

The company, which has been conducting auctions overseas for two years, says its real-time auctions with live auctioneers provide buyers with an auction house-quality experience from the comfort of their own home. It’s not entirely new given that for some time the bigger auction houses have live streamed their auctions over the internet.

But Ben Hartley, Auctionata’s international managing director, says that’s just the point. “Art lovers do not want their world turned totally upside down, so we are presenting the auction experience exactly as it has worked for centuries – but we are doing so with ultimate convenience and with all participants on a level playing field.”

While most art world players have been moving online, few have fully anticipated online TV.

Auctionata senior vice president Eric Gonon is assembling a team of videographers, video journalists, and other professionals to work on the project. He told artnet News the company has acquired the best webstreaming technology available in order to ensure that the experience of watching and bidding is up to the second. “The ability to operate truly in real time for our buyers is crucial to the success of the platform,” he said.

But the real key is securing a charismatic, competent auctioneer who will become a natural representative of the brand and if all goes according to plan, a recognizable art world personality. In other words, get ready to start seeing this yet to be known person around town.

A Charming Auctioneer Persona

The role requires more than just the requisite charming auctioneer persona. According to Hartley, the right candidate must also be adept at performing on camera and dealing with multiple feeds of information at once, while maintaining their composure.

“We’re thinking it should be someone with broadcast experience, who is used to being on television and knows the ropes of television production— that is, someone who can deal with lots of information at once, because there will be a producer talking constantly in their ear piece, and a specialist in the studio, and they will also be fielding and directing questions from people in the virtual auction room,” he said.

While a traditional auctioneer has the luxury of being able to “take the temperature of the room,” the live television host will be obtaining their information about potential buyers through a producer scanning the internet, who will feed them detailed streams of information about customers as they log on. In this way, the auctioneer will be able to tailor the experience to the needs and desires of those tuning in.

Hartley added that while they are currently conducting screen tests and have seen some “good candidates”, they’re still open to new hats being tossed into the ring. If you think you’ve got what it takes, he said, get in touch.

The first live auction will take place on October 23, and will be filmed in broadcast from Auctionata’s studios in a former Tiffany and Co. building, on Fifth Avenue.

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