WSJ:China Online Art Marketplace Hihey.com Takes Around $100M
Online Chinese auction website Hihey.com has raised around $100 million in a Series B round backed by Citic Securities and Shenzhen Capital Group.
Hihey.com, which is based in Beijing's 798 art district, enables artists to display and sell their art to potential customers online. Executives from financial institutions including Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley are among the website's fans, according to a news release from Hihey.com.
The website receives nearly 20,000 visitors a day, Hihey.com Chief Executive He Bin said in an interview, and buyers range from entrepreneurs to professors. Before the new round, Hihey.com raised some capital from China Minsheng Banking Corp ., he said, but he didn't provide a figure.
Proceeds from the new round will be used to upgrade the company's technology and increase both online and offline marketing, he said.
Some of the biggest auction houses, including Christie's and Sotheby's , now have online platforms where people can bid for art, as they seek to capture more customers on the back of increasing Internet usage around the world, especially in Asia. Even China's largest e-commerce marketplace Taobao recently took the plunge into the online art scene when it auctioned a Picasso painting and a sculpture by Salvador Dali via its Paimai auction site.
For Hihey.com, however, there has been some controversy over its platform. A group of Chinese artists recently boycotted the website, claiming it held back art after the Art Sanya Festival in 2012, as well as defaulted on payments. Hihey.com said it was the festival's sponsor, Shanxi Huayu Group, that was responsible for looking after the work.
Mr. He didn't provide further comment on the boycott.