Internationally famous British auction house Christie’s today announced the launch of “Christie’s Ventures,” an investment fund for fintech companies looking to make technological breakthroughs in the art market.
Christie’s said its new fund will “work alongside portfolio companies to help accelerate their progress, simultaneously advancing Christie’s activities in the presentation, education, and sales of fine art and luxury goods.”
The auction house is keen to invest in three specific areas: Web3 innovation, art-related financial products, and “solutions and technologies that enable seamless consumption of art.”
Christie’s also announced its first portfolio company, LayerZero Labs.
LayerZero is an interoperability solution that brings together a community of cross-chain developers to build decentralized applications (dApps) that can seamlessly navigate across different blockchains.
The project’s co-founder and CEO Bryan Pellegrino said in a statement: “We look forward to working with their team to find new and innovative ways to create the most accessible, frictionless experience with assets indexed over multiple blockchains.”
Christie’s Web3 pivot
It may have been founded in 1766, but Christie’s has already carved out a space in fintech history for being one of the few established art auctioneers to service the crypto art market.
In March 2021, crypto artist Beeple made an image every day for 5000 days and turned the whole collection into a non-fungible token (NFT) called “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS,” which sold at auction via Christie’s for an unprecedented $69.3 million to NFT whale Metakovan. This was Christie’s first NFT auction.
That summer, Gucci sold its first NFT–a piece of video art–-through Christie’s for $25,000, making it one of the most expensive items ever sold by the fashion giant.
Last November, the auction house auctioned off another Beeple piece called “HUMAN ONE” in a hybrid sale of both a physical sculpture and an NFT, raising $29 million.
Christie's then partnered with NFT marketplace OpenSea for a series of curated auctions on Ethereum that kicked off last December.
With the venture fund now in place, it looks like the auction house will continue to delve deeper into the space.