The auction house has sold a number of virtual works of art this year that have grossed colossal sums.
A non-fungible token of a digital artwork called “CryptoPunk” sold for $ 11.8 million on Thursday, auction house Sotheby’s said.
CryptoPunks are a 10,000-pixel art character set created by Larva Labs in 2017. The one sold by Sotheby’s – “CryptoPunk # 7523” – is of a sought-after alien variety with blue-green skin and a medical mask.
The work is in the form of an NFT, that is to say it is authenticated by the blockchain, which certifies its originality and ownership. The NFT is sent to the buyer’s cryptocurrency wallet; no work of physical art changes hands.
“CryptoPunk # 7523” was sold for $ 11,754,000 in Sotheby’s online auction “Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale”, which grossed $ 17.1 million for the works of 27 digital artists.
It was bought by Israeli entrepreneur Shalom Meckenzie, who is the largest shareholder in digital sports company DraftKings, Sotheby’s said.
Moments ago in our #London saleroom, an extremely rare “Alien” CryptoPunk #7523 from the collection of @sillytuna sold for $11.8M as part of our #NativelyDigital NFT auction – setting a new world auction record for a single CryptoPunk. pic.twitter.com/PDVUSttI3o
— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) June 10, 2021
Michael Bouhanna, contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s, said the sale demonstrates continued strong demand for NFT.
“We are excited to continue to explore exciting new ways to present these cutting-edge works. “
Anyone can view the artwork represented by NFTs, but only the buyer has official owner status.
Sotheby’s in the metaverse
Although the sale was an online auction, the works were displayed on screens at Sotheby’s exhibitions in New York, London and Hong Kong.
Sotheby’s also opened its very first virtual gallery: a replica of its actual building on New Bond Street in London, in the online virtual world Decentraland.
Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual world where users can walk around with friends, visit buildings, attend events, and view their collections of NFT artwork.
“To those who say, ‘Yeah, but you can’t hang them on your wall,’ that’s where virtual social worlds like Decentraland come in,” said Dave Carr, spokesperson for the Decentraland Foundation.
“Virtual worlds are the natural home of digital art NFTs.”
NFTs exploded in popularity in February and March. An NFT artwork fetched $ 69.3 million at Christie’s, in the first sale by a major non-physical artwork auction house.
Sotheby’s first NFT auction was held in April, with digital works by the artist known as “Pak” for $ 16.8 million.
Kevin McCoy’s Quantum, a simple geometric animation also featured in Thursday’s auction, sold for $ 1.47 million. Sotheby’s said it was the first NFT ever made, having been “minted” in 2014. A work by Pak was also sold for $ 528,200.