App For Art’s Sake: Building A Community Of Collectors And Investors In Nigeria

Published 7 months ago
Screenshot 2022-11-01 at 07.59.31

Onyinye Anyaegbu, the London-based co-founder and CEO of African art trading platform ARTSPLIT, sees art as an alternative investment.

The global art market is estimated to be worth a staggering $65.1 billion according to the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2022 and Nigerian artists are finally gaining praise. With paintings of renowned artists like the late Ben Enwonwu, considered by most collectors to be the father of Nigerian modernism, fetching over $1.4 million at Sotheby’s and another going for $1.5 million at Bonhams, Nigerian art is in high demand globally and collectors and investors are actively acquiring works with the view of cashing in on the increasing demand.

According to figures from Bonhams, about 90% of the value of their auction sales in 2017 came from Nigerian artists. And poised to disrupt this new art economy is ARTSPLIT, a trading and social app providing users with an interactive space to participate in live auctions, bids, trades, portfolio management as well as access to invest and lease African artworks. According to the London-based co-founder and CEO of the platform, Onyinye Anyaegbu, this solution is a timely answer to an issue most collectors face.

“My brother came to me with this idea about Art. He just started his art journey and got introduced to being a collector and he was really enjoying it and he started collecting art as a great investment. And I was really fascinated by the whole African art space because of him. He told me the problem he had was that right now, as a collector even though you may have about $300,000 worth of art sitting at home, when you take it to the bank, you cannot leverage the art for anything financial,” says Anyaegbu.

“If you ever wanted liquidity you have to sell it out completely. As we spoke we realized that this is such a big collector problem and as Nigerian collectors are probably a bit more sophisticated and really that’s where it started from. As a collector, you collect all this amazing work and you don’t even have enough space for it and you cannot leverage the art for any financial instrument.”

The art trading platform for African art is providing collectors a way to get more out of their work by providing the opportunity to own shares also known as splits of prestigious African artworks that can be traded by collectors in real time.

“So, we figured what if you create a platform where you don’t lose your work but you get other people to invest in your platform and ARTSPLIT was born. The first milestone was the beta testing and seeing all our thoughts come to life in terms of the app technology. We spent a lot of time talking and mapping processes and experiences of how it should feel for a user. How do you trade, where do you trade from, and having a tech partner come in and take that and flip it into an app was amazing and that was a huge milestone for us,” avers Anyaegbu.

The app offers the community of collectors the flexibility of either co-ownership or full ownership with further opportunities for actual tangible ownership of these art works for a period of time.

“It does not end there. ARTSPLIT also provides opportunities for owners of investment grade African art to list their works, have them evaluated and sold to members of our community. You can decide to sell your work in full, or in splits (minimum of 10%) which will enable you to keep the ownership of your work and still benefit from trade of your work,” says Anyaegbu.

Five Nigerian artists took part in ARTSPLIT MOCONA, their split-and-lease online contemporary arts auction in July with bids amounting to $57,000 and with an average growth value of 14%. The auction profiled prominent Nigerian artists paving their way in the contemporary art scene including the likes of Abiodun Olaku, Duke Asidere, Edosa Ogiugo, El-Dragg Okwoju and Oliver Enwonwu.

Anyaegbu and her team are already on their fourth round of funding raising $2.5 million against a $5 million benchmark. ARTSPLIT with its team of art lovers is on a mission to raise the global profile of African art by building a community of collectors and investors as well as providing advisory and management services for art collection.