ALR agreed a deal with Japanese art dealer Louis Lawrence, who had set up a catalogue business from his home in France, to buy his company and move the storage to India.
The deal began in 2015 and now the business operates a storage facility in Delhi with three staff who check condition, scan and digitise the index and weigh each catalogue before pricing them to be sold on its website thecatalogstar.com.
It will soon have more than 60,000 catalogues available, which range across the fine and decorative arts, and is buying more – from single issues to whole collections.
ALR chairman Julian Radcliffe said: “With the whole drive towards transparency and provenance this is the perfect time to launch this business. Although art databases provide information on sales date and price, they do not have the information of provenance, exhibition history or the full catalogue description.”
He said there are no copyright issues to scanning index pages or single pages but the company obtains permission from auction houses when copying entire catalogues.
Radcliffe said the company is also in talks with auction houses to digitise catalogues for internal research.
A number of existing catalogue businesses operate in the US, such as Andy Rose’s The Catalog Kid Antique Auction Catalogs and Jeffry Eger Auction Catalogues.
ALR, which runs the company as a separate entity alongside its main business, said the service has had interest from researchers, academics, collectors, dealers and people doing family history research.