This week on The Collectors Show (www.webtalkradio.net) we meet Mr. Mark Lurie, owner of LOFTY. LOFTY is a start-up company that is providing an on line marketplace with fully vetted art and antiques. Mark Lurie is a 28-year-old Harvard Business School graduate whose innovation sprang from his personal dissatisfaction with buying and selling online. Thanks to this new start-up, buyers and sellers have a website where every item has been reviewed and valued by distinguished appraisers, together representing decades of expertise. Mark tells us during the interview that his is a network of 60 experts whose credentials are such that buyers can be confident that the items they buy are in fact what is listed. He delivers transparency and confidence to the marketplace that is often “iffy” at best. But it is more than just a good story as LOFTY offers money back guarantees. To date, he has never had to give a refund.
There is nothing new about on line auctions or purchasing collectibles on line. But his idea was to make expertise and confidence available and part of the on line experience. Says Lurie, “While helping a friend sell some original art prints and 19th-century silver, I experienced how difficult it was to obtain accurate information about valuable pieces and to connect with collectors who appreciated their worth.”
The experience inspired Lurie. “I’ve always loved learning about the history of art and antiques at museums,” says Lurie. “I thought, ‘Why can’t items for sale online have similar trustworthy, curatorial descriptions?’” Drawing on his experience founding the largest online review and software company in the international education industry, and backed by savvy group of venture capitalists, including Brook Hazelton, of St. James Partners and former CEO of Phillips Auction House, Lurie launched LOFTY in June, 2013. “Our approach was relatively simple,” he explains. “We created a website that combines the practicality and accessibility of eBay with the scholarship and excellence of major auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s.” To view the website, go to http://www.lofty.com/.