In March, Christie’s auction house made history when they became the first auction house to auction off a work of NFT (non-fungible token) art by the artist Beeple, which went on to sell for a staggering $69,346,250. With this precedent set, it stands to reason that auction houses are taking NFTs, cryptocurrency and blockchain art a whole lot more seriously. On Tuesday, Sotheby’s announced that they would become the first major auction house to accept both Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) as payment for physical artworks. The auction house is pulling this off via a collaboration with Coinbase, a massive site of cryptocurrency exchange.
Furthermore, Sotheby’s is highlighting this new means of operation with the upcoming sale of Love is in the Air, an iconic work by the elusive street artist Banksy that’s set to sell for between $3 and $5 million. The Banksy is being offered as part of Sotheby’s upcoming Contemporary Art Evening Auction on May 12th, and potential buyers will have the option of paying the winning bid in the cryptocurrency of their choice.
“With the growing adoption of digital art and NFTs, along with our increased focus on digital innovation, we’ve seen an increasing appetite among collectors for more seamless payment options when doing business with Sotheby’s,” Stefan Pepe, the Chief Technology Officer at Sotheby’s, said in a statement. “Leveraging the trusted exchange Coinbase is a natural progression and is in line with our dedication to enhancing our client buying experience and developing new ways to expand our client base by meeting them where they are.”
Sotheby’s also recently dipped its toe into the NFT space with “The Fungible Collection” sale, which involved the auction house collaborating with Nifty Gateway, an online marketplace that’s been a hotbed for the trade of NFTs. The “Fungible Collection” sale yielded a total of $16,825,999 in sales, indicating that crypto and NFTs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.