We founded Grail Capital with the goal of shaping the future of art and culture by making it easy, profitable and safe for more collectors and investors to participate in the digital art market. Our mission extends beyond being an investment fund, aiming to contribute to onboarding and welcoming 1 million new collectors into the digital art space over the next decade and to contribute to making the digital art market to $1 trillion market in the next 10 years.
We are living through a unique moment in the history of art and culture. Some wise observers coined it “the new renaissance”: the beginning of a fervent period of cultural, artistic, and economic “rebirth”.
Web3 is the new foundational layer of the world wide web and is offering a fundamentally new approach to the way digital assets are created, stored, and shared among different stakeholders (creators, users, media, investors, etc.). For younger digital native generations, digital assets are straightforward. And it’s only a matter of time — 10 years — before the whole world embraces the new paradigm — just like they accepted the world wide web, mobile internet, and social media. First gradually, then suddenly.
Such exponential adoption of digital assets is a natural evolution of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and other digital platforms. Our digital lives and assets created on digital platforms (content, trust, influence, visibility, social status) are becoming more and more valuable as we’re spending more of our time interacting and transacting through digital technologies, rather than in person.
Digital artifacts which already play a significant role in shaping the Millennial and Gen-Z culture are becoming more important to the broader world. The history of art and culture is full of examples of subcultures — Rock ’n Roll, Impressionism, Hip Hop, Street Art — which eventually become THE culture a decade later. Embraced by few, but dismissed by many (including the intelligentsia and the incumbents), they eventually gained mass adoption and global recognition. Digital art and NFTs as vehicles of culture will follow the same path.
The next wave of major adoption of Web3 will be Culture. It will be the cultural aspects that will attract an increasing number of people to Web3. Digital native artists and creators will be among the most famous and successful contemporary artists of the 2020’s and beyond. They will build multi-billion art franchises with ultra-connected and powerful digital art communities.
Artists are the new entrepreneurs
Imagine a world in which Andy Warhol, Banksy, Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Takashi Murakami join forces and bring their unique talents to kickstart a world-scale art project. This is what’s happening in Web3: artists are creating art, but thinking big from the start, with aspirations to onboard millions of people into their creative worlds. They are building immense communities of patrons, standing up global teams — from marketing and sales, to designers and product managers — and building impactful companies and lasting brands, digitally, fast, and at scale.
NFTs are enabling this digital art (r)evolution
Non-Fungible Tokens (“NFTs”), as a technological medium that emerged in 2017 with the ERC-721 standard, brought the ability to create, own, transact, and store “non-fungible” (something unique and that cannot be replaced by something else) digital cultural assets, among many other use cases, first on the Ethereum and later on other blockchains (Bitcoin, Tezos, Flow, Solana, Cardano, and others).
Powered by NFTs, digital art, communities, and culture became global and instantly shareable with anyone and anywhere in the world. It is a massive paradigm shift in the digital art world, full of frictions and inefficiencies. As more of our lives become digital, the use and value of digital assets will massively increase. This includes fine art made natively digital, but also hybrid artistic creations that combine physical and digital forms, limited editions of pieces of art and culture such as collectibles, memberships, and other use cases.
Wider adoption of digital art is on the horizon
There are sticking points to a seamless adoption, mostly driven by technological, regulatory, financial (somehow) and generational factors. And more generally because of an adverse mindset and poor acceptance by incumbent stakeholders (bankers, governments, regulators, institutions). Nevertheless, each day that passes sees the adoption and global recognition by major art institutions, global brands, celebrities and corporates grow wider. In February 2023, the Centre Pompidou and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) announced their first permanent collections of digital art on the blockchain Cryptopunks, Ringers, Chromie Squiggles, Justin Aversano’s Twin Flames, and more marquee artworks. And it’s only the beginning.
Our vision and mission
We started Grail Capital with a mission to shape the future of art and culture. Collecting art for over two years and watching the digital art market expand 10X, we realized to propel further growth we need to make it easy and safe for more collectors to participate in the ongoing renaissance. With our backgrounds in asset management, we chose to start with those with whom we speak the same language: institutional investors.
Grail Capital was built from the ground up to invest in the most liquid and high end segment of digital art collections by the top-200 artists. These artists make up 80% of the $6 billion digital art market.
Grail Capital will acquire and commission digital artworks that are issued on-chain (i.e. on public blockchains), which have strong cultural significance and carry social, historic, scientific, and aesthetic values.
We will invest in (on-chain) digital art that complies with the following intrinsic value criteria: provenance, representativeness, scarcity, completeness, interpretive potential, and capacity to bridge the past and the present.
We will substantiate our rigorous qualitative approach to collecting with the top-tier risk management, prudent diversification, and portfolio management, informed by our multi-decade experience in the traditional asset management industry.
We aim at building the most significant digital art collection in the world
We are more than an investment fund. Generating consistently attractive returns that justify the risk of the nascent asset class is our top priority. However, we will know that we are truly successful if, over the next 10 years, we contribute to onboarding and welcoming 1 million new collectors — first institutions and investors; and over time any art patron aligned with our mission and values — into the digital art space.
We will lead with integrity, bringing visibility to the digital art space and helping art institutions (traditional contemporary art), collectors and investors understand it better. We will share our performance review, report on our investments, and dive deep into our theses and provide research. We have already amassed the largest database of art data, which we will substantiate with research and insights.
To achieve our mission, we are building a team. We will be looking to hire senior analysts to help us with research, data management and analytics, and risk management. We are finalizing onboard amazing advisors — contemporary art specialists, consumer brands leaders, executives and wealth management experts — to join our advisory board. More to come soon.
Our biggest asset is our reputation
We have been in the industry for a while. Our reputation precedes us. We will continue to act ethically with artists, other collectors, and investors. We’re here to win together and we’ll continue to consider other stakeholders of this sector as partners, not competitors or someone who needs to lose for us to win.
We are in the first half of 2023, in what can be seen as the third year of the digital art era, and we are still early. Although it’s not 100% clear today, we are already living through the biggest technological revolution of the century, the greatest artistic renaissance, and major generational shift — all at the same time.
We are looking for like-minded creators, investors, and builders to build the future of digital art. Together. Globally. Now. Welcome to Grail Capital.
— Jean-Michel Pailhon and Tim Salikhov
Founding Partners, Grail Capital