The upper echelons of the fine art world just took another big step into the realm of digital art and NFTs. The NFT platform MakersPlace has just announced a $30 million investment, including from several blue-chip names in the art world: Acquavella Galleries, former Sotheby’s C.E.O. Bill Ruprecht, and Pace Gallery director Sabrina Hahn.
Other high-profile investors include Eminem, music executive Paul Rosenberg, football player Larry Fitzgerald Jr., tech entrepreneur Eric Baker, and Shopify founder Tobias Lütke.
“We had been watching the NFT space with curiosity, but without the capacity to do a deep dive in it,” said art dealer Nick Acquavella in an email. “We were initially introduced to the team at MakersPlace through Bessemer Ventures, an investment firm that we had in common with them. After getting to know [co-founder Dannie Chu] and the team at MakersPlace we felt they were a good fit for us to make an entry into the field.”
Asked if the gallery has fielded interest from its artists looking to explore the NFT space, Acquavella said: “The move is primarily an investment for our family, but we hope to also serve as a beneficial [partner] for MakersPlace given our position in the art world as well as our relationships with our artists and others.”
Trevor Jones x Jose Delbo Genesis Image courtesy MakersPlace.
Another veteran of Sotheby’s, former head of communications Darrell Rocha, has moved to MakersPlace in a similar role.
“Education is at the forefront of our efforts,” said Ryoma Ito, who co-founded MakersPlace in 2018 with his former Pinterest colleagues Yash Nelapati and Dannie Chu. “We’ve built our platform to be one of the easiest to use, but we also want to provide advice to help make their sales a success. It’s a white-glove service that helps maximize results and keep people active in the community, whether they are a creator or a collector (or both).”
MakersPlace was an early adopter of blockchain technology. “For years, we saw first hand all the issues that plagued digital creators with their works being stolen, misappropriated, and undervalued,” read a statement from the company. “Fast forward three years, and we’re ecstatic to see what we believe to be the biggest shift in the digital creator economy with the advent of blockchain and NFT technology.”
The platform became the first NFT marketplace to partner with a major auction house this past spring when Christie’s sold Beeple’s The First 5000 Days NFT for $69 million. Over the past year, the platform says it has made more than $100 million in sales and experienced a 10-fold growth in unique collectors.
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