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Christie’s to curate NFT auctions with OpenSea. What’s the strategy?

christie's art nft forever 2021

Renowned auction house Christie’s has announced a partnership with non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea. The first collection will be open for browsing from December 1, curated by Christie’s.

Christie’s was one of the first major auction houses to start paying attention to NFTs. The auction of Beeple’s EVERYDAY: 5000 days piece back in March for $69 million had an important role in helping NFTs hit the headlines beyond the niche crypto enthusiast press. 

Taking a look at what’s in it for each of the parties, on the one hand, OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace. During the three months to the end of October, $9 billion worth of transactions were processed on its platform. In the whole of 2019, Christie’s facilitated $5.8 billion in art sales. 

So when it comes to NFTs, OpenSea can potentially bring new clients with big wallets to Christie’s. And that doesn’t just help it with NFTs. When Justin Sun lost out on the Beeple Everyday sale, Christie’s sold him a $20.1 million Picasso artwork. It also helps to establish Christie’s credentials in digital art.

From OpenSea’s perspective, as the biggest marketplace, it’s keen to get more mainstream people involved, and the cache of Christie’s name can do just that. OpenSea’s positioning is more the eBay of NFTs, so it covers everything from art to sports collectibles. However, some of its smaller competitors, such as SuperRare and MakersPlace, are very focused on the art world. By collaborating with Christie’s, it can chip away at the competition.

“The digital art world moves at an incredible pace,” said Christie’s Marcus Fox. As the marketplace continues to grow and develop, Christie’s is delighted to collaborate with OpenSea—the biggest NFT marketplace—to align the highest caliber and most frictionless transactions each party can provide. I see this as an important step forward in bringing the traditional and digital art worlds closer together.”

Besides Christie’s, another auction house positioning itself as a leader in NFT digital art is Sotheby’s. It came from behind but caught up pretty quickly. The auction house launched its own metaverse marketplace and is more closely associated with the Bored Ape Yacht Club, one of the most successful and “trendy” NFT projects. It seems that Sotheby’s is looking to associate more with the youthfulness of NFTs and welcoming young and “cool” collectors. On the other hand, by creating its own destination, 

Meanwhile, Sotheby’s auctioned the World Wide Web code for $5.4 million and worked on “digital twin” technology with some physical pieces. As for Christie’s, it auctioned CryptoPunks for $17 million.