Auctionata is a professional online auction house. We’re about to encounter the online version of Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Read on …
Sramana: Alex, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where are you from and where were you raised? What are the roots of your entrepreneurial journey?
Alexander Zacke: I was born in Vienna in 1966. I grew up in a family of art dealers and collectors. The family business goes back four generations. I was raised among amazing art collections. I have known art from various cultures my entire life.
Very early on, I was interested and hooked on Chinese art and culture. I spent a week in Taiwan and I had a backpack. I slept outside of the National Palace Museum because it had the largest collection of Chinese art outside of China. I did not have the money to stay in a hotel and travel from the hotel to the museum, so I just slept outside of the museum for three nights. On the fourth night, they came out and told me they would give me a little room to sleep in, since I was so interested in Chinese art.
I founded my first gallery when I was 18. I published roughly 100 publications on Asian art, primarily Chinese art.
Sramana: Where are you based now?
Alexander Zacke: I am based in Berlin. I moved to Berlin two years ago to start Auctionata. I have also lived in Switzerland and Asia. I spent a long time in Australia as well. I have always been involved in the art business though. The art business has always been a global business and required a lot of travel.
Sramana: What was the premise of the new company that you moved to Berlin to start?
Alexander Zacke: All of the businesses I had before that were businesses that my family owned 100%. We never had an Internet business or anything like that. We had always been very conservative in our businesses. In the art world, there are a small group of people who do everything among themselves. It is almost like the science communities.
I did a lot of traveling and I learned about eBay in 1998. I was the first European seller that had $100,000 of sales in 1998. That impressed the people with eBay and they contacted me. Since that time, I did a lot of work for them. I built the eBay academy in Europe and I did political work with the European Union for e-commerce. I watched as eBay’s business grew to embrace art auction business within the eBay platform. That happened in 1999. They even tried to work with live auctioneers and for some reason their art attempts never worked.