A Chat with Marek Claassen and Stine Albertsen, Co-Founders at AI-powered Art Advisor App: Limna

Marek: Limna is an app that acts as an AI-powered Art Advisor for its users, empowering consumers with the knowledge and information to buy fine art. It works by applying machine learning to the largest art database in existence – which covers more than 1,000,000 exhibitions from 1863 to today, 700,000 artists, and 45,000 institutions – as this data can reveal the cultural value of artworks rather than simply their market prices. In essence, the app tells you how much an artwork should cost and why.

Stine: This is especially important given how closed and opaque the art market has tended to be. Giving people this tool to see behind the pricing of artworks means that we can open the market to new collectors, to people who love art but haven’t had the confidence to make that first purchase. Since we learn about what people like from the way they use the app, we can also help them discover new art that they will love, and then we can even put them in touch with the galleries that represent their new discoveries.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Marek: Stine and I started collecting curatorial data more than 20 years ago with our first business, Artfacts.net, because we had the sense that artists’ exhibitions really define whether they exist, by measuring the attention they get from curators. We created the Artist Ranking algorithm in 2004, a first in measuring the cultural reputation of any artist, but believed we could go further and stretch beyond the professional art consumer. So now that we had this trusted treasure trove of data, all we needed was the right way to further make use of it. With Limna, which is now available on the Apple App Store, we leverage and extend this data, generating instant price estimates and insights on the hundreds of thousands of artists that we cover.

Stine: There was an increasing demand coming from both in and outside the traditional art scene. We heard from a lot of galleries and artists that they were finding it difficult to price some of their works of art, as well as the obvious issue that potential or existing collectors don’t know how much an artwork should cost, and Limna is a way to fill this knowledge gap through technology. Essentially, we came up with a structured way of telling people what the fair price of an artwork should be, making the process more visible and accessible. Now we can correlate the artist’s career with pricing, predicting a sales value for an artwork of a certain size by any given artist – from emerging to established. This gives greater confidence to both the collector and the gallerist in terms of pricing, and therefore buying, of works.


How has Limna evolved during the pandemic?

Stine: The pandemic and the world’s increased adoption of technology have radically impacted all kinds of sectors, but maybe especially the art industry which has been estimated to increase from c.9% to 25% of sales being online in the space of just three years. For us, a growing turn towards digitalisation isn’t just sales though, it’s also the enhanced transparency and accessibility which has been more of an opportunity than a difficulty. With price availability improving online, it actually not only allowed us to validate our technology, but also to answer a real need that has been solved in so many other industries.

Marek: With the art market increasingly embracing the online world, there has been growing interest from investors, who recognise the importance of these changes and want to support greater digitalisation and openness of the art world. This has allowed us to accelerate growth, expand our international team, and secure more funding.

What can we hope to see from Limna in the future?

Marek: We’re looking to extend Limna’s coverage of different mediums, so that the app can give instant price estimates beyond the current options of unique paintings and photography. In the long term, we would like Limna to become the go-to app for art lovers who want to fact-check prices when visiting galleries and fairs to look for new work. Not everyone in the art world has access to an art advisor, but technology can make this kind of advice accessible to everyone.

Stine: This year we are also going to be working closely with the entire community of galleries, artists, and curators to try and bring in new collectors that appreciate the value of a transparent art world. We are going to partner with some key art-fairs and events with the aim of creating a more open industry that will be more welcoming to newcomers.