Maybe it’s time to retire the tulip bubble analogies.
Anyone out there who still dismisses NFTs as nothing more than a digital fetish might want to check out the announcement from Sotheby’s today.
It’s launching a dedicated marketplace for non-fungible, tokenized art called Sotheby’s Metaverse, a nod to the virtual world where NFTs are becoming an economic force. Yet there’s nothing virtual about the venerable auction house’s embrace of the hottest application in DeFi.
Sotheby’s is all in — it will accept bids for auctioned works in ETH, BTC, or USDC, according to a statement it released this afternoon. The firm has formed its own Discord for artists, collectors, and community members to commiserate, a prerequisite for playing in the NFT space. Bidders will receive an avatar created by Pak, the popular crypto designer and artist. And Sotheby’s Metaverse plans to roll out capabilities to mint generative works just like Art Blocks.
Sotheby’s Metaverse will hold its debut auction — Natively Digital 1.2: The Collectors — from Oct. 18 to Oct. 26. Among the 53 works on the block are Larva Labs CryptoPunk #8527, Rubik’s Lure by Pak from the collection of WhaleShark, and Chromie Swiggle #9103 by Snowfro, the founder of Art Blocks.
The move by an auction house that, together with Christie’s, rules the collective market for fine art, could make a significant impact on the economics of NFTs. Sotheby’s will offer fledgling artists a springboard to get their work in front of well-heeled cognoscenti who can add zeros to valuations with one raise of an auction paddle.
If you want to get a sense of the Cambrian explosion of artwork hitting the market in the last few months just take a gander at the Twitter feeds of OpenSea or Art Blocks. The platforms’ are chock-a-block with art creation and commerce from grass roots artists.
“Since Sotheby’s first entered the world of digital art earlier this year, it was immediately clear that NFTs not only had staying power, but that the potential and application of this new medium has only just begun to be tapped into,” said Sebastian Fahey, Sotheby’s Managing Director of Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India, in a statement.
Sotheby’s Metaverse is rolling out as museums, galleries, and art fairs increasingly showcase NFTs. Last month, Art Basel, a prestigious event for collectors, introduced NFTs and recorded strong sales. Meantime, renowned New York gallerist Vito Schnabel joined forces with serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk to set up the first online NFT auction site at a commercial gallery.
And chances are Sotheby’s archrival Christie’s will respond with an initiative of its own. It started accepting live bids in ETH during an Art Blocks sale last month, .