NFT Displays Go 3D With Investment Boost From Christie’s Venture Arm

Hologram company Proto, whose displays can showcase NFTs, joins Christie’s VC portfolio after multiple collaborations

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Tobias Arhelger/Shutterstock.com modified by Blockworks

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Christie’s auction house is going beyond digital frames to display NFT art, and leveraging 3D holographic technology to showcase both traditional and blockchain-based art in their global galleries. 

Its in-house investment firm, Christie’s Ventures, invested an undisclosed amount into Proto Inc., a hologram maker that became its fourth portfolio company. 

Proto and Christie’s have collaborated on various occasions throughout the past year to present both traditional art from artists like Edgar Degas or Alberto Giacometti in 3D, and NFT art for the quirkily spelled fRiENDSiES collection in a March auction.

After its founding in 2019, the company raised $3 million during a seed round, and $5 million in the form of venture debt from Western Technology Investment firm, bringing total investment in the LA startup to $20 million. Other backers include venture capitalists Tim Draper and Mike Walsh, and True Capital Management firm.

Christie’s venture arm has joined Proto’s $12 million Series A round.

“We have found the hologram to be a phenomenal new practice for exhibiting the finest in art of all mediums from all eras,” Devang Thakkar, head of Christie’s Ventures, told Blockworks.

This latest investment formalizes the companies’ collaboration, he added.

Edgar Degas' Little Dancer was beamed around the world via Proto hologram for Christie's
Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer was beamed around the world via Proto hologram for Christie’s | Source: Proto

Proto develops box-like devices in small to large sizes — big enough for life-sized adult — that can even display presentations by Christie’s curators and executives in hologram form.

Some of the main benefits of holographic art are that it minimizes risk, expense and any environmental or carbon impact associated with shipping physical art pieces, according to Christie’s. 

Christie’s Ventures was founded in July to support early stage art-related Web3 and fintech startups. Initial investments include LayerZero Labs, a cross-chain interoperability protocol, and NFT minting platform Manifold.xyz. It mainly uses these companies’ tech tools to aid clients in buying and selling art. 

The auction house sold 87 NFT lots in 2022 for a total of $5.9 million in revenue, Christie’s reported. Its top NFT lot this year was artist Refik Anadol’s NFT sculpture ‘Living Architecture: Casa Batllo,’ which sold at live auction for $1.4 million in May 2022.


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