Christie’s is launching an in-house investment firm, Christie’s Ventures, that will offer financial support and guidance to a number of portfolio companies in the emerging technology and fintech field. The aim of the new enterprise is to advance “Christie’s activities in the presentation, education, and sales of fine art and luxury goods”, a company statement says.
Christie’s Ventures will focus on three areas: Web 3.0 (incorporating non-fungible tokens, cryptocurrencies and blockchains), art-related financial products and “technologies that enable seamless consumption of art”.
The first company Christie’s will fund is LayerZero Labs which has developed systems enabling clients to move assets more easily between blockchains. “We look forward to working with the [Christie’s] team to find new and innovative ways to create the most accessible, frictionless experience with assets indexed over multiple blockchains,” says Bryan Pellegrino, LayerZero Labs co-founder, in a statement. Earlier this year, the company announced it had raised $135m in its first funding round.
Christie’s move follows a concerted drive by the auction house to gain ground in the art-technology domain. Last year, the auction house sold Beeple's digital work Everyday: The First 5000 Days (2021) for $69.3m with fees. The sale marked the first time Christie’s accepted cryptocurrency for a work and the first time a standalone NFT was sold by an auction house. But in the first half of 2022, NFT sales at Christie’s have so far only totalled $4.8m.
Last month, Christie’s crypto connoisseur Noah Davis announced on Twitter that he would be leaving the auction house to become brand lead for Yuga Labs, makers of one of the most recognisable NFTs projects, CryptoPunks. Davis helped bring NFTs out of the metaverse and onto the auction house floor with the sale of Beeple’s digital work last year.
Meanwhile, Christie’s Art+Tech Summit, an annual two-day conference, takes place in New York this week (19-20 July).