Luxify is an eBay for the super-rich

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 April, 2015, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 6:36am

For sale: yacht. Asking price: US$13 million.

It's not the kind of item you'd normally find on eBay. So if the adage is true that to succeed in business, you have to find a need and fill it, maybe Luxify is on to something.

But for the Hong Kong-based website, catering to the top 1 per cent income bracket doesn't cut it. It's aiming for the top 0.01 per cent.

Luxify deals in new and used luxury goods. With offices also in London and Singapore, it recently announced it had raised US$800,000 in seed funding from undisclosed investors in Asia and Europe. Most of its sellers, however, are in Hong Kong - at least for now.

The site started out in March last year with typical luxury fashion items - handbags, jewellery, fine wine and art. But since then it has come to include sports cars, boats, aircraft and even property. Listings on the homepage this month have included the aforementioned yacht, a 2008 Maserati and a five-bedroom waterfront house.

While most listings have quoted prices, Luxify includes a "make an offer" function so buyers and sellers can haggle. Communication tools, social media integration and a map interface make that kind of negotiating easier.

Luxify provides a useful alternative to pawn shops and auction houses, and it allows private sellers to keep their identities anonymous. For high-net-worth individuals, this can be an important factor.

"Last year, we helped a private art collector to sell a one-of-a-kind sculpture [worth US$1.5 million]," says co-founder Alexis Zirah. "This seller decided to use Luxify as he did not want to go through an auction house. He wanted to remain in full control of the selling process, and he wanted to remain anonymous."

For now, Luxify doesn't charge any fees or commissions. The site serves more than 250 professional dealers and 1,000 private sellers. It has more than US$350 million worth of products listed and 9,000 registered users. The most popular categories are cars, bags, watches and fine wines.

"The luxury market is extremely fragmented and there is no transparency for buyers to know the true value of their pre-owned luxury goods," Zirah says. "Currently, the limited distribution channels for both sellers and buyers are dominated by offline formats such as pawn shops, traditional auction houses and specialised second-hand boutiques."

To earn customers' and sellers' trust, Zirah says, "We carefully monitor sellers who register, and review and approve every single item listed on the platform."

Luxify also offers professional photography and retouching services to help sellers give the best impression of the items for sale. For properties, that includes aerial shots taken by drones and helicopters.

Other e-commerce companies in the second-hand luxury goods market include InstantLuxe and Luxury Exchange.