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Bust online art retailer for sale

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Our next door neighbour, the London gallery of eyestorm, hasn't been so busy with the new showings lately. Maybe that's because the online art retailer has gone bust.

An advert in today's FT touts the assets and the business of Eyestorm.com which will give their new owner, or owners, a "unique opportunity to buy a market leader in limited edition prints to the consumer market".

Eyestorm.com is in the hands of liquidators Malcolm Cohen and David Gilbert, of BDO Stoy Hayward.

The assets listed are: contracts with 100+ big name artists; 7,000 active customers; galleries in London and New York; award-winning website (1.5m unique visitor sessions pcm); London warehouse and fulfilment centre; turnover of approx. $2.5m and growing at 30 per cent per annum.

Eyestorm.com is available "whole or in parts". The business was heavily-backed by VCs: in June 2000, eyestorm announced it had received $14.2m in third round funding, taking its total funding at that time to $26m.

In March 2002, eyestorm was named a member of the oxymoronic BT Vision 100, "100 innovative UK organizations that have achieved strategic goals through visionary activities over the last 12 months - regardless of size, age or sector".

Is this the new new media kiss of death?

eyestorm went online in December 1999, but its demise was almost inevitable - on its website eyestorm boasts its inclusion in the Sunday Times e-league of Europe's most successful privately-held Internet businesses.

This is, or was the dotcom industry's equivalent to the curse of Hello! (Where celebrity couples break up very soon after their photo spread in the mag). The Sunday Times quietly dropped the league table after two, maybe three, outings, as feted entrants went titsup.com with alarming regularity. (See story: Today's top 100 e-businesses: tomorrow's death list? and see how many of the top 10 are still around today.)

eyestorm hit the public eye last October when a window display-cum-installation in its Mayfair gallery conceived by Damien Hirst, the greying enfant terrible of Brit Art, was tidied up and thrown out by the cleaner.

He thought the work, consisting of "full ashtrays, half-filled coffee cups, empty beer bottles and newspapers strewn across the gallery" was leftover rubbish from a party the previous night. ®

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