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Meet Carrie Eldridge of ATO Platform in Beverly Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Eldridge.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in a house filled with art, some of it made from macaroni and glue, some from porcelain made during the 18th century in Japan. Tall beautiful Imari porcelain vases, along with wall-size handmade tapestries passed down for at least two generations from both sides of my family. I have always loved art but only started learning about the art world while in college at Southern Methodist University. Many of my friends were attending the Meadows School of the Arts when I began to learn of the heart-breaking struggle it is to be an emerging and even mid-career artists. Those artists’ stories always resonated with me and I never accepted that it was “okay”. I was never a person to accept a status-quo that I felt was unjust, but at the time I didn’t know how I could help.

Many years later, when I moved to Los Angeles and worked at Morgan Stanley in Beverly Hills I started going to the Gagosian Gallery to try and expand my network of like-minded people that were culturally curious. I rubbed shoulders with the art world elite, aspiring artists, collectors, and critics. That is when I had my epiphany for ATO. I thought it asinine that banking logic and business practices along with economics was not being applied to the problems of the art market to solve some of these seemingly obvious issues. That is when my research started and my passion grew so I began interviewing artists, collectors, and historians by the hundreds. I absorbed every piece of art literature, magazine, or business critique I could find. Finally, I started asking for help and the ATO team began to form. Before I knew it, we were filing for an assumed name and writing our first business plan, and by May 2017 I left my career in banking to start what I hope will be a legacy of change championing artists.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Nothing has been smooth for us, I haven’t met a tech founder that would describe their experience as smooth thus far. Initially, we struggled to collect data on artists’ sales history, chains of ownership better known as provenance in the art industry. We learned that access to data is not easy to find, and the data that is easily accessible is not free. It felt like there were gate-keepers holding the information we needed. We were told by art historians, auction house executives, and even some collectors that free proof artwork sales history, proof of sales, and utter transparency would not be welcomed everywhere. We learned about the counterfeit industry, money laundering, what a “chandelier bidder” is in auction houses, and a litany of other nefarious activities that happen daily in the art market that were gutwrenching. It began to feel like we were facing Goliath with just a small pebble. We pushed through all the reasons why could fail and proceeded with the support of some incredible investors and art world experts who actually care about artists, care about transparency and bringing trust into the art industry not just for the sake of the market, but for fairness, for artists, and for history itself.

ATO Platform – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The ATO Platform was created to address the age-old problems that visual fine artists face in their careers. The art market is not designed to support artists. It is opaque, complex, and filled with expensive barriers to access accurate data and sales history. Emerging artists sell works in order to buy materials to make more works. As their careers progress, they see their works reappear in the market at higher prices. Unlike composers, authors and other creatives the visual artist does not receive any sort of royalty on the resale of their works.

ATO possesses unique and proprietary technologies to deal with this problem. The technology has the capabilities to record a permanent record of the created work that records all sales transactions, records meticulous details and identifying qualities that prevent a counterfeit market from emerging, and creates a clear provenance. With the availability and permanence of this information ATO will be able to collect and remit a resale royalty to the artist each time an artwork resells in the public or private markets perpetually. Addressing the ongoing art market issues of authenticity and transparency in pricing and sales while providing a long-desired resolution to the lack of royalties is propelling artists and the larger art market to new heights, expanding the market demand, and more importantly, the trust of buyers.

A number of things set us apart besides the fact that we qualify for five patents, one being that this new transparency is going to equally if not more so help collectors protect their investments. Once a collector knows without a doubt their work and all relative works by artists are real and that a counterfeit market would be doomed, an organic sense of trust is bound to bloom. Just think of it, you’re looking at five pieces you own, and you know, in real-time the present market value of all of them. You’ll also know all news, stats, facts, and demand for each artist without hiring a consultant. This is the future of the art market, a far more fair and equitable art market.

There are blockchain technologies and art-focused start-ups out there that are able to record a sale, or data around a work, however, no one that we know has approached the artist community to register works in a turn-key solution that also protects the artists, informs the collector, or has demonstrated a verified method of preventing counterfeits to enter the public market.

We are proud of the fact that now we are testing the platform and are ready to launch this year investors have been lining up to participate in our last round before launch. After years of work, blood, sweat, and actual tears it feels really good.

What’s your favorite memory from childhood?
That is the hardest question so far, I have so many. Perhaps it was celebrating my birthday with my parents and three siblings. Seeing them singing surrounding me with love while I anxiously waited to blow out the candles on a gorgeous cake my mother baked and painstakingly decorated for me. I would say all of those were my favorite memories.

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Image credit: Carrie Eldridge

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