O n 23 June, the auction room at Sotheby’s New York — usually reserved for the presentation and sale of objects and artworks — played host to a very different kind of happening. On the occasion of NFT.NYC and Sotheby’s upcoming Geek Week auctions, crypto enthusiasts and Hip Hop fans gathered for a private performance by rap legend and founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man.
Organized by Sotheby’s Metaverse and Cassandra Hatton, Global Head of Science and Popular Culture, the event was co-sponsored by MEFaverse, Method Man’s newest metaverse initiative. Opened by a rambunctious record-scratching DJ set from Mix Master Mike, best known for his work with the Beastie Boys, Method Man performed a 45-minute set featuring Wu-Tang Clan hits like the 1994 single “C.R.E.A.M.” alongside highlights from his platinum-record solo career. The rapper was supported on stage by his son PXWER, who was celebrating his 26th birthday, and announced the duo’s upcoming album.
This year’s NFT.NYC, anchored by its namesake conference that took place around Times Square, was the second iteration of the week-long event celebrating the cryptosphere. Thousands of NFT collectors, artists and blockchain innovators attended myriad satellite events across the city hosted by major marketplaces and NFT collections. Downward trends in crypto markets didn’t damper spirits; on the contrary, the Web3 sentiment of “we’re all gonna make it” resonated — a testament to the vital importance of community that has emerged as a central focus of the NFT space. Community participation and investment reigned, as holding tokens from different NFT collections and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) provided collectors with invitations to parties and exhibition openings over the course of the week.
Holders of MEFaverse tokens were among those invited to the concert at Sotheby’s. MEFaverse is the first expanded comic universe in the metaverse, and it imagines a fantastical version of New York where Method Man “became a literal superhero and not just a lyrical one.” The project is an outgrowth of Method Man’s early adoption and active participation in Web3 initiatives; the rapper released an NFT comic series, Tical World, as well as new music on the Flow blockchain last year.
The rap concert, and Sotheby’s collaboration with MEFaverse, highlighted new initiatives for the auction house’s Science and Popular Culture division. “If you had asked me six years ago if I foresaw this happening, I would have said no,” Hatton said when asked about the event. “But it’s not surprising given our innovation in new sales categories, including our Hip Hop sales, which I put together in collaboration with Monica Lynch, the former president of Tommy Boy Records.”
Attendees also previewed an exhibition of highlights from Geek Week, a series of upcoming auctions organized by the same department, that will be on public display 21–27 July. A 76-million year-old skeleton of a Gorgosaurus — an apex predator closely related to the Tyrannosaurus Rex — struck an imposing figure over its audience, while Greg Dunn’s Self Reflected visualized its viewers’ brain activity in strands of gold.
The concert, along with many of the items for sale during Geek Week and beyond, are examples of Sotheby’s ongoing interest in the preservation and circulation of developing technologies. Since the launch of Sotheby’s Metaverse last year, the new NFT division has held an annual series of “Natively Digital” auctions, curated collections of historical digital artworks, such as landmark conceptual blockchain works by Vera Molnar (2% of disorder in co-operation #01 for $138,600) and Rhea Myers (Secret Artwork [Content] for $63,000). Hatton added that the MEFaverse x Sotheby’s event is a sign of developments to come, saying that both the collaboration and exhibition showcase “the significant innovations we have made in tech, including our sales of NFTs and expansion into Web3.”