Startup Spotlight: Get groovy gear with Invaluable.com

New site helps you find that Henry VIII sofa you've always wanted

In the market for one o' them Louis XIV armchairs? How about a handwritten Proust proof, or a Van Gogh masterpiece?

Invaluable.com aims at making it easier for the rich to conspicuously consume by digitising its huge pre- and post-auction database, so you can see what's on the block and what's not. But you'll pay for the privilege -- a subscription fee of £99 to £499 applies, depending on the level of service monsieur requires -- plus another £100 if you decide to go non-digital with post or fax notifications.

And after that mahogany Chippendale footstool has been swiped from your little place in the country, Invaluable will help you track it down with the world's largest online database of stolen items -- though the service says it mostly deals with items that have sentimental value. If someone tries to auction off your priceless Ming vase, the description will be matched up with your description of it in the database. The crooks could be nabbed by any of the 2,000 police forces worldwide who use the service -- an average of three items are recovered every day.

So, where did they get all this information? Well, it turns out Invaluable has been in the biz a good 10 years, though it's a startup as far as the Internet is concerned, having just recently gone online.

If all this sounds a bit above your means, take into account that Rene Moolenaar, Invaluable's European CEO, describes the service as making auctions "a mass market proposition". Well, after all, who wouldn't want to read about Dorothy's ruby slippers being sold off for £450,000?

  • Service: Invaluable.com

  • What it does: Helps you find that certain special priceless objet d'art

  • Where it's based: Isle of Wight

  • Who it's for: Industry professionals, collectors, stolen-art police

  • What I can find there: Automobilia, Ceramics, Furniture, Gardening, Music, Fine Art, Exhibitions, and "information on a multitude of issues relating to collecting"

    Startup Spotlight is a weekly feature on ZDNet UK News and ZDNet techTrader, featuring the bright sparks of the UK's high-tech startup industry. For more of the faces behind the news see the Startup Spotlight archive.

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