Art investors, collectors and owners will be able to trade shares in fine art for the first time on a new online marketplace that is aiming to shake up the USD56 billion industry.

Maecenas is a new platform that will match art owners with investors, creating a fair and open market, reducing costs and bringing transparency to a traditionally opaque world. It will allow any investor to have a fractional share of a masterpiece.

Its creators are using blockchain technology to create an open exchange where works of art valued at more than USD1 million can be traded in real time as liquid financial units.

Investors will be charged a fee of 2 per cent per transaction while owners pay 6 per cent of the listed amount for their piece of art – this compares with auction house fees of up to 30 per cent.

Its founders believe the fine art market has been largely unchanged for more than 300 years and is ripe for disruption, with increasing interest in art as an alternative investment.

It aims to democratise access to the art market, allowing investors to own shares in a wide range of high-value pieces of art, creating a diverse portfolio which they can adjust whenever they want. Meanwhile, art owners, collectors and galleries will have much cheaper access to capital, allowing them to raise finance without losing ownership of their asset as they can only list up to 49 per cent of its value.

Maecenas is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to raise additional finance for its launch, with a minimum target of GBP400,000, and is offering 12.4 per cent of equity. It has already received GBP200,000 from a Swiss venture capital business, Polytech Investors. It has also attracted considerable interest from galleries and collectors who want to list pieces of art on the platform.

Maecenas is targeting sophisticated investors who want to have art in their portfolio – a category that includes 88 per cent of family offices, 75 per cent of high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals and 64 per cent of banks, according to recent research. Investors must put in a minimum investment of USD5,000 to part-own a piece of art listed on the platform and pay an initial deposit of USD50,000 to open an investor account.

Co-founder and CEO Marcelo Garcia Casil (pictured) says: “We want to create a fair and open marketplace where investors and art owners can meet without intermediaries. We are using technology to revolutionise the art finance market, reducing costs, introducing transparency and creating liquidity. We are creating a new way to invest in fine art. Our ambition is to make the art industry a better place for everyone.

“This is an industry which has been tainted by a history of fraud, money laundering and obscure practices. We want to democratise the fine art market by guaranteeing transparency and fairness. We will offer the most competitive fees in the market, giving every investor the chance to own a share of a masterpiece.”

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