Christie’s, which has been one of the pioneers of the NFT boom in traditional art institutions, will use a new venture capital fund to improve technology platforms in the art world.
Christie’s Auction House opened its own venture capital firm on July 18 as part of its move into digital art. According to a press release from the auction house, it will be called Christie’s Ventures and will fund new and financial technology companies that are important to the art market. The company has already put money into LayerZero labs, a startup whose goal is to make it easier for assets to move between blockchains.
This news comes after both Christie’s and Sotheby’s said they had a lot of sales in the first half of the year. Sotheby’s sales of $746 million are up 37% from the same time last year, while Christie’s sales of $4.1 billion are up 17% from the same time last year.
Even though Christie’s overall sales were good, sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) dropped from $93.2 million in the first half of 2021 to $5 million in the first half of this year. Noah Davis, an expert on non-fungible tokens (NFTs), left Christie’s in June. He helped start the NFT boom in the art world and led the historic sale of a $69 million NFT by the artist Beeple in March 2021.
“In the last three or four months, things have been getting back to normal. In an interview with the Observer, Devang Thakkar, the global head of Christie’s Ventures, said, “There was a lot of talk last year, and prices were going through the roof.” “The fog has lifted, which has helped people focus on what technology is best for this space and not on who can make money the fastest.”
After the market for NFTs went down, this news came out.
Thakkar says that the main focus of Christie’s Ventures will be on technology that makes it easier to enjoy art, financial innovation, and web3 companies. Web3 is a plan for the internet that includes cryptocurrencies and blockchains, as well as databases that store cryptocurrency and records of other transactions.
Thakkar said, “In each of these three areas, we get to work with entrepreneurs who are on the cutting edge.” “Some of these early adopters will also become collectors, so we need to talk to them.”
Christie’s has been working with NFTs since 2018, when it held its first Art+Tech Summit, a conference about digital art technologies, Thakkar said. He said, “We remain hopeful and positive about the future of digital art and NFTs.”
Not everyone is as excited, though. Jon Ippolito, a professor of new media at the University of Maine, says that the recent drop in the value of cryptocurrency has made people in the art world feel disappointed. He thinks that once the hype around cryptocurrencies is no longer profitable, there will be no reason for people to put money into the NFT ecosystem. Ippolito said that some people used art to back up the cryptocurrency they owned. “I don’t think NFTs will go away for sure, but morale is at a low point right now.”
Ippolito said that the downturn has caused companies to pull out of blockchain investments. He also said that Christie’s Ventures was started at a good time. “They’ve made a lot of money with NFTs, so people who really believe in the program should stick with it.”