The historic British auction house Christie’s recently announced it is launching “Christie’s Ventures” — an investment fund for fintech companies innovating in the art market. The fund will be focused on three areas: innovation, art-related financial products, and Web3.
Its first portfolio company is LayerZero Labs, an omnichain interoperability protocol that brings together a community of cross-chain developers to build decentralized applications (dApps) that can seamlessly navigate across blockchains.
Bryan Pelligrino, the company’s co-founder and CEO said that they looked forward to working with the legendary auction house to create an “accessible” and “frictionless” experience with assets indexed across various blockchains.
Christie’s auction was founded in London in 1766 and is known for holding the biggest art auctions throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The company generates over 400 annual sales in eighty different categories, including jewelry, photography, art, collectibles, and NFTs — and has a global presence with showrooms in London, Paris, Geneva, New York, Hong Kong, and other cities.
Christie’s began selling NFTs in 2021 and has never looked back. According to CEO Guillaume Cerutti, NFTs have allowed them to reach a younger client base. They noted that 75 percent of buyers in the NFT category averaged 42 years of age and were new to Christie’s.
Christie’s Auctions Sold $150 Million Worth of NFTs in 2021
While the news of Christie’s investment fund is a historic moment in fintech history, it’s certainly not Christie’s first foray into Web3 and NFTs. In 2021, the auction house did more than $150 million in NFT sales, helping to achieve its highest sales numbers in years. Here are some of the sales from that year.
To set things off, on March 11th, 2021, Christie’s sold a digital artwork by Beeple that consisted of a collage of 5,000 days of work for $69.3 million, sending shock waves throughout the traditional art world. It was the first NFT-based artwork ever sold by a major auction house.
Only two months later, the art house raised eyebrows again when it auctioned nine CryptoPunks for a whopping $17 million. And on November 9th, 2021, another piece by Beeple called HUMAN ONE, which combined a digital NFT artwork with an IRL physical sculpture, sold at Christie’s for $28.9 million to an online bidder in Switzerland.
Lastly, Gucci sold a piece of video art as an NFT through Christie’s for $25,000, one of the most expensive items ever sold by the luxury fashion brand.
We’ll have to wait and see what will come out of Christie’s Ventures, but it looks like Christie’s is taking the next logical step in Web3: investing in its own technology and ability to create and produce in the space.