Sotheby’s introduces cryptocurrency sales with a famous Banksy work
Written by Leah Dolan, CNN
Sotheby’s has become the first major auction house to introduce cryptocurrencies as a payment method for physical artworks, following its prior sales with digital NFT art last month.
“Love is in the Air” (2003), one of street artist Banksy’s most recognizable works, is the first piece that Sotheby’s will make eligible for purchase via either Bitcoin or Ether. It’s estimated to sell for $3 million to $5 million (between 35 and 53 Bitcoin) when it goes up for auction May 12 in New York.
Though Sotheby’s will stick to conventional bids in USD, the winning buyer will have the option to pay the hammer price using cryptocurrency (crypto will not be accepted for the buyer’s premium and overhead premium, according to an email statement from the auction house). The acceptance of Bitcoin and Ether as legitimate remittance comes as part of a collaboration between the auction house and Coinbase — one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms.
Banksy’s “Love is in the Air” will be the first physical artwork that can be bought via Sotheby’s with digital funds. Credit: Courtesy Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s introduced its NFT-only sale, “The Fungible” collection, last month. The auction house said in a press release that its decision to now recognize cryptocurrencies as a payment method is a “market-defining” arrangement and a “continuation of Sotheby’s experimentation with new technologies.”
Yet despite its ecological impact, the bank-free distribution network of crypto gives the digital currencies a somewhat utopian appeal. Sanchan Saxena, Coinbase’s VP of product, said that Sotheby’s was “evolving with their client base to cater to crypto-forward consumers.”
In a press statement, Sotheby’s said it hopes that by launching its adoption of cryptocurrency with “Love is in the Air,” they honor Banksy’s legacy by uniting “the biggest disruptor in finance with one of the most notable disruptors in the art world.”
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