AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A European company that holds online auctions for "collectibles" such as wine, rare comic books and historical artefacts said on Thursday it had raised 75 million euros ($82 million) from a group of investors led by U.S. group Lead Edge Capital.
The investment is one of the largest in a Dutch start-up company and comes despite some industry watchers saying the market for online auction sites has become saturated following the success of companies such as eBay and Priceline.
Catawiki, founded in 2011 in Assen, Netherlands, says it has grown rapidly in the past year and is now averaging 15,000 auctions a week. It has 200 employees in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Britain and 400,000 registered users.
The company has not released sales or profit figures and declined to disclose further terms of the investment from Lead Edge, together with Accel Partners, Project A Ventures, NOM, and Booking.com co-founder Arthur Kosten.
In an interview, Chief Executive Rene Schoenmakers said Catawiki was different from rivals because its used a "curator" model, in which auctioneers vet and approve items for auction.
He said the company would use the funding to improve its software, add auctioneers, and expand internationally.
Mitchell Green, managing partner at Leading Edge, said his fund believed Catawiki had found a niche auctioning articles that are less rare and expensive than those sold by auction houses Sotheby's or Christie's, but not addressing the mass market where it would have to compete with eBay and Amazon.com.
As part of the deal, Leading Edge Operating Partner Lorrie Norrington, a former eBay executive, will advise the company on its international expansion.
Reporting by Yoruk Bahceli and Toby Sterling; Editing by Mark Potter