Sebastian Cwilich/Wendi Murdoch/Dasha Zhukova
Artsy is a free online platform designed to connect users to art. Artsy's search engine and database draw connections and map relationships among works of art. Led by Carter Cleveland, computer science graduate from Princeton and son of art historian and collector David Cleveland and Sebastian Cwilich, former executive of Christie's and Haunch of Venison director Artsy aims “to create an educational, engaging resource for people to explore and discover art."
Artsy is backed by a group of investors, including Eric Schmidt, Wendi Murdoch, Dasha Zhukova, Joshua Kushner, Thrive Capital, Peter Thiel, Jack Dorsey, Jim Breyer, Keith Rabois, David Tisch, Chris Dixon, Charlie Cheever, Dave Morin, and David Kidder. John Elderfield, former chief curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art serves as Artsy’s senior advisor and Larry Gagosian and Marc Glimcher, president of Pace Gallery, are advisors.
Carter Cleveland founded Artsy during his senior year at Princeton University and worked on the site from his dorm room. Cleveland’s goal for Artsy is for the site "to be the place where every single user in the world goes to discover art online." In May 2010, Artsy participated in the New York City conference, TechCrunch Disrupt, where they competed in the Startup Battlefield and received the Yahoo! Rookie Award! A year later, the team demo'd Artsy at the Beyeler Foundation at Art Basel (June 15, 2011). In July 2012, Christine Kuan, former Chief Curatorial Officer and Vice President for External Affairs at ARTstor, joined Artsy as Chief Curator and Director of Strategic Partnerships to oversee museum and institutional partnerships and curate Artsy’s online collection.
As of December 2012[update], Artsy's website has over 100,000 users.
Artsy current features over 21,000 works on its site. Those for sale on Artsy range in price from $150 to $3 million.
The business model is commission-based where gallery partners pay Artsy a sales commission that averages 3% of the sales price. Artsy operates on an honor system, relying on the galleries to report the sale.
The Art Genome Project
Artsy is powered by The Art Genome Project — "an ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art." A collaboration between art historians and engineers, The Art Genome Project draws upon art-historical scholarship and artificial intelligence to assign values to artwork based on over 1211 characteristics or "genes." These genes ranges from color to "Content: Private of Personal Space" to period to "Technique: Documentary Photography" to "Group Portrait." The Art Genome Project aims to help users uncover works of art based on personal taste and preference to facilitate education and discovery of art. Matthew Israel serves as the Director of The Art Genome Project.
Artsy initially raised around $160,000 in seed funding. In November 2010, Artsy raised an additional $1.25 million in funding in an investment round led by Joshua Kushner and in November of the following year, raised $6 million Series A from Peter Thiel, Thrive Capital, Wendi Murdoch, and Dasha Zhukova.
According to Wired, Artsy "has the potential to introduce each buyer to a wide range of artists and artworks, all of them related in some way and—this is key—most of them unknown and otherwise inaccessible to any but the most knowledgeable connoisseurs."
Criticism around The Art Genome Project centers on "“its classification system, which rubs some artists the wrong way. 'I don't think what I am doing has anything to do with Cindy Sherman,' says British artist Jonathan Smith after being told the site links his work to hers via a staged-photography gene. 'That sounds like something a programmer would think of.'" Also, "there's the issue of whether art can be properly represented on the Web. "'There is something sensual about a visual object that doesn't translate online,"' says New York City--based collector Niel Frankel." 
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