I n a world first for a fine art auction house, Sotheby’s will offer an innovative new payment option in which, for the first time at a major auction house, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) will be accepted as payment for a physical artwork. This groundbreaking development will be made possible thanks to a collaboration with Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
Fittingly, the pairing brings together the biggest disruptor in finance with one of the most notable disruptors in the art world – Banksy, whose iconic protest image, Love is in the Air, will be offered in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 12 May in New York. Bidding for the work, estimated at $3–5 million, will be conducted in USD, as is customary at Sotheby’s New York, but now the buyer will, for the first time, also have the option to pay the hammer price with cryptocurrency.
This market-defining new arrangement – which paves the way for further adoption of cryptocurrency across Sotheby’s auctions – is a continuation of Sotheby’s experimentation with new technologies, and follows the success of ‘The Fungible’ Collection, Sotheby’s debut NFT sale with the crypto designer-native artist Pak that had participation from more than 3,000 unique collectors, the majority of whom were first-time buyers with Sotheby's. The decision to accept cryptocurrency via Coinbase Commerce marks an important next step for Sotheby’s as it aims to continue to lead the fine art market in the adoption of crypto technology, as well as re-imagining and expanding the possibilities of an auction house.
"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.”
As one of the most famous and provocative artists of the 21st century, whose street art interventions and studio practice has continually pushed boundaries and caused controversy the world over with the artist’s signature brand of political and social commentary, Banksy is the disruptor par excellence of the art world. By offering collectors the opportunity to acquire Love is in the Air with cryptocurrency, Sotheby’s honors Banksy’s legacy by pairing this signature painting with an innovative and first-of-its-kind payment solution to open the sale to a new generation of collectors who are as accustomed to digital evolution as they are to Banksy’s activist art.
Banksy’s Love is in the Air is currently on view at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries through Wednesday, 12 May, before the Contemporary Art Evening Sale begins at 7pm ET.