Christie’s Turns Venture Investor With A New Tech-Focused Fund
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Christie’s Turns Venture Investor With A New Tech-Focused Fund

Christie’s Venture will focus on early-stage financing for companies developing Web 3.0 and related technologies, innovations that make it easier to consume art.

By Abby Schultz
Tue, Jul 19, 2022Grey Clock 2 min

Christie’s announced on Monday that it’s now investing in leading-edge technology related to the future of the art market through an internal strategic venture fund.

Christie’s Venture will focus on early-stage financing for companies developing Web 3.0 and related technologies, innovations that make it easier to consume art—including digital art, and on financial technologies that make it easier to buy and sell art.

“We’re particularly interested in founders who are doing things that reduce friction in our space—whether it be buying and selling, provenance, security, or technologies that help people consume art better,” says Devang Thakkar, global head of Christie’s Ventures. “Those are the kinds of areas that we’ve identified where we can help move the needle.”

Thakkar began advising Christie’s CEO Guillame Cerutti and the executive team during the pandemic on a range of digital considerations, including web and mobile applications, trends in nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, and digital ownership.

“With the growth of that area last year, we had a front-row seat to the development and innovation that founders were bringing to us,” he says. At the time, Christie’s didn’t have a way to participate in these fledgling businesses, so Thakkar pitched the idea of a venture fund.

The vehicle’s first investment is in LayerZero Labs, which Christie’s describes as a “cross-chain interoperability company.” In other words, LayerZero is developing technology that will allow people to move assets between blockchains such as Ethereum, Solana, and Algorand.

There are more than 1,000 blockchains currently in existence and Christie’s expects consolidation in the sector will reduce the number to 20 to 30 within the next year-and-a-half. LayerZero should make it easier for individuals to move their holdings without going through several steps and paying lots of fees. It’s technology that should benefit any crypto holder, not just those who own NFT-based art, Thakkar says.

Aside from such Web 3.0 technologies, Christie’s will also invest in technology that makes it easy to consume art, whether it’s through today’s computer systems, advanced screens, or something else, he says, adding, “It’s an area of investigation for us.”

Concerning financial innovation, Christie’s, which has its own art financing division, is looking outside of traditional art lending to the selling of fractionalized shares in fine art and other innovations that make it easier to sell art.

The fund is launching at a time when cryptocurrencies have fallen sharply, taking the value of many NFTs down too. Ethereum, which is the basis for many NFTs, was down nearly 66% through Friday.

But Thakkar says this “crypto winter” actually makes it “a little more realistic to invest in this space—the fog of speculation and high-price points have tapered down a bit.” He points to Andreessen Horowitz, a US$33 billion California-based venture firm that began investing in leading-edge tech in 2009, in the midst of the financial crisis.

Christie’s Ventures is seeded from the auction house’s balance sheet and will not include other investors. Legal and financial due diligence will all be handled in house, too.

Thakkar, who has been investing in companies on his own for 10 years, worked at Microsoft for a decade and was a former executive at Artsy, and he says, he also grew up around art. This new role at Christie’s is “a perfect blend of every fabric of my being,” he says.

Reprinted by permission of Penta. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 18, 2022


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New research from Knight Frank’s International Waterfront Index shows waterfront properties are costing more than double their inland counterparts in Sydney while in Melbourne waterside properties attract a 40% premium.

Australia’s coastline attracts some of the highest waterfront premiums in the world with Sydney topping the index — an average premium of 121% — compared to an equivalent home set away from the water.

Auckland ranked second on the list of 17 international locations — a premium of 76%. The list saw Gold Coast (71%), Perth (69%) and the Cap d’Antibes (59%) on the French Riviera round out the top 5.

Australia continued to feature prominently in the research with Brisbane’s waterfront premium coming in at 55%, with Melbourne also in the top 10 at 39%.

According to Knight Frank Australia’s head of residential research, Michelle Ciesielski, there has always been strong appetite for Sydney’s waterfront homes.

Australia’s luxury residential market has advanced, it lacks the depth of prestige markets in more established global cities said Cieselski.

“As a result, our Australian cities can achieve a significantly higher premium on the waterfront compared to a similar property inland without access to, or a view of, water,” she said.

“Also, Australia is known for its balmy outdoor lifestyle, so many buyers in this super-prime space are willing to pay a premium to secure the ideal position along the waterfront.”

The data also suggests that beachfront homes were most desirable, commanding a premium of 63% compared to harbour locations fetching 62% premium and coastal homes with a 40% premium.