In a remarkable evolution spurred by Beeple’s record-breaking $69.3 million NFT sale in March 2021, Christie’s, a 257-year-old auction house steeped in tradition, has become a trailblazer in the intersection of art and technology. The historic auction not only reshaped public perceptions of NFTs but also set Christie’s on an unexpected path, transforming it into a tech thought leader.
Beeple’s Auction Catalyst: The sale of Beeple’s NFT artwork, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” marked a turning point for Christie’s. The unexpected success prompted the auction house to explore the potential of NFTs and blockchain technology.
Creation of Christie’s 3.0: Following the Beeple auction, Christie’s established Christie’s 3.0, a groundbreaking, fully on-chain Ethereum NFT art marketplace. Launched about a year ago, it has auctioned on-chain works from both digital-native and traditional artists, bringing legitimacy to the on-chain fine art market.
Shift in Perspective: Christie’s high-powered clientele, intrigued by the Beeple sale, started seeking advice on navigating NFTs as a new asset class. Responding to market demand, Christie’s embraced the challenge and embarked on the creation of a blockchain-native digital auction platform.
Christie’s 3.0 Features: The platform, fully on-chain, has auctioned works from various artists, experimenting with different mediums and auction structures. Notable experiments include listing NFTs without estimates and featuring Twitter-inspired NFT pieces by artist Jack Butcher.
Christie’s Ventures: Recognizing the influx of tech-related information and opportunities, Christie’s Ventures, a tech-focused venture capital arm, was established. It has invested in seven projects across blockchain, AI, FinTech, SaaS, and hardware, expanding Christie’s presence in emerging technologies.
Evolutionary Path: The journey from traditional art auctioneer to a leader in on-chain art showcases Christie’s ability to adapt to changing times. Christie’s Ventures aligns with the institution’s commitment to staying relevant by understanding and integrating new technologies thoughtfully.
Christie’s unexpected foray into the NFT and blockchain space underscores the transformative power of a single auction, catapulting an age-old institution into the forefront of technological innovation.