February 14, 2023
Australian Financial Review

Auctions giant Christie’s calls for Aussie art financier Art Money


POSTED 16 Feb 2023

Headshot of Paul Becker in front of an aboriginal artwork
Photography by Michael Quelch. Courtesy of The Financial Review.

Auctions house giant Christie’s is getting into the fintech game, taking a stake in Australian-born-and-bred art financier Art Money.

Street Talk can reveal Christie’s, via its corporate VC arm Christies Ventures, has agreed on terms to acquire a non-controlling equity stake in the business, and committed to work towards a commercial partnership that would see Art Money’s services offered globally.

While it’s Christie’s Ventures’ first foray into the world of fintech, it’s an even bigger deal for Art Money, which was founded by Australian entrepreneur Paul Becker in 2015 and allows buyers to pay for artworks in interest-free instalments.

The strategic agreement is expected to give Art Money access to about a $US1 billion slice of Christie’s annual sales in the coming 12 months, opening the fintech up to a much bigger pool of potential customers. Christie’s is about as big as it gets in the art world, with global sales worth $US8.4 billion in 2022.

Art Money’s the first fintech investment in the Christie’s Ventures portfolio.

In return, Christie’s gets a reg-tech, finance and payment solution for its art buyers in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, at a time of regulatory change. It’s understood to be Christie’s first fintech investment, and comes less than a year after it launched its venture capital arm.

The investment comes as Art Money passes the hat around for a Series A-2 raising via Sydney boutique Acova Capital (which also helped stitch up the Christie’s deal).

The business is backed a bunch of galleries, customers, high-net-worth investors and three institutions, while founder Becker also has a substantial stake.

The pitch is about the evolving art landscape, with anti-money laundering and know-your-client regulations likely to be rolled out globally in coming years. Art Money is positioning itself as the global passport to transact, with a funding solution attached.

The pitch has come some way since Street Talk last spotted it - back in the fintech glory days of 2020 - when Art Money was a BNPL solution making art more accessible to buyers and particularly the Millennial market. It was about opening a $100 billion market up to the next generation of major art collectors.