Galloire is located on London Street, City Walk, Dubai.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Galloire, the innovative contemporary gallery located in London Street, City Walk, Dubai, has signed a landmark agreement with Abu Dhabi’s MidChains, to become the first major gallery in the Middle East region to accept cryptocurrency for physical or digital art. It joins a list of major international galleries such as Pace, Lehmann Maupin and recently Gagosian, to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDC for artwork sales globally.
“The gallery continues to push forward with the use of technology to enable collectors to connect with its artists and their work,” says founder Edward Gallagher, speaking about the gallery and the principles behind the move.
“We have an absolute belief in the use of technology to bring art to as wide an audience as possible; so, by using photorealistic VR and AR, you’ve already seen us bring exhibitions from world-famous artists to tens of thousands more people than could have ever seen it in the gallery.
“We want more people to connect with contemporary art and also believe in an egalitarian approach to how people want to pay for that art.
“Why should we force a crypto-native person to pay in traditional (fiat) currency to acquire a beautiful painting, and vice-versa? Why should a traditional collector looking to venture into NFTs have to pay in cryptocurrency just to access some digital art they fall in love with?”
Over the last few years, the United Arab Emirates has become a leading home for blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and investors, with new legislation easing the way for major companies to set up in the country.
The country is also no stranger to major art acquisitions from crypto-wealth, as last year saw Sacha Jafri’s record-breaking artwork (the largest canvas painting in history) sold for sixty two million dollars to French crypto-businessman Andre Abdoune.
Jafri (b. 1977) is a contemporary British artist known for creating the world’s largest painting on canvas, Journey of Humanity (as recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records) over seven months during the COVID-19 pandemic in Dubai.
It was sold at auction in Dubai for 228 million dirhams ($62 million US) – the fourth highest auction price ever paid for a work of art by a living artist, behind Jeff Koon’s Rabbit ($91.1 million US), David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) $90 million US, and Beeple’s Everydays: the First 5000 Days ($69.3 US).
The painting measures over 17,000 square feet and incorporates the artwork of children from more than 140 nations. Jafri is donating the proceeds from the sale to children’s charities. Abdoune is of Algerian origin, who lives between Paris and Dubai. He made his fortune from stock trading before buying the industrial corporation Altius Gestion International Holding and entering cryptocurrency trading.
One of the leading lights in the cryptocurrency and broader virtual asset trading space who have flourished during this period, is MidChains. Led by CEO Basil Al Askari and co-founder Mohamed Al Hashemi, the company has received support from global (e.g. MIAX) and regional (e.g. Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company, ADQ) heavyweights.
Al Askari said: “We are a company which prides itself on innovation and being able to provide safe and regulated ways to transact and invest with cryptocurrency; so working with Galloire to enable collectors to invest in art using their preferred cryptocurrency, made perfect sense to us.
“Enabling people to pay securely for a physical asset with a digital asset, especially something as impactful as art, is a huge step forward in the UAE and we have been able to power that today, not in months or years’ time.”
Gallagher added: “We are extremely proud to be working with MidChains in order to facilitate this next step in payment technology. “A lot of companies in the UAE are offering to help explore this area or facilitate cryptocurrency payments – but most are not properly licensed to do so.
“MidChains is fully licensed by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and regulated by Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) to deliver on their promise, and we’re delighted to have them as our partner.” MidChains and Galloire also confirmed that systems were up and running to accept cryptocurrency payments, in time for the recently closed exhibition from Hong Kong rising art star, Carla Chan.
By changing the way people exchange, MidChains seeks to democratise new ways of gaining and holding wealth, with the transparency and regulation that makes it safe for all. Backed by reputed regional and international investors, including Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), MIAX Exchange Group, and DisruptAD, (ADQ’s) venture platform, it is a fully licensed virtual asset multilateral trading facility and custodian based in in the UAE, built and operated by a new generation of experienced financial services professionals.
MidChains acts as a key access point for virtual/crypto assets, empowering retail investors and linking global institutions to the region. Galloire is a leading contemporary gallery working with established and emerging artists from around the world who, regardless of medium, push boundaries of culture, thought and explores our digitally-dominant society.
Possessing an eclectic range, it exhibits artists whose roots stem from urban art to classically-trained painting, from the world viewed through the lens to the data that surrounds us. The gallery is also characterised by a strong interest in how visual arts work in conjunction with other forms such as poetry, philosophy and science.