Christie’s and Sotheby’s Are Now Accepting Cryptocurrency for Big-Ticket Items, Including for a $5.4 Million Keith Haring

Christie's auctioneer Rahul Kadakia takes bids at Christie's Hong Kong. (Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images for Stephen Silver)

In yet another sign that cryptocurrency is making inroads into the upper echelons of the art market, Sotheby’s announced yesterday that it will accept Ether or Bitcoin for its upcoming sale of a 101.38-carat, pear-shaped D colour flawless diamond.

With an estimate of $10 million to $15 million, Sotheby’s notes that it’s the highest price yet for a physical object on which it is accepting non-traditional tender. The auction house described it as the “biggest stride yet” for cryptocurrency.

Christie’s contemporary head Alex Rotter also announced in a post on Instagram that the house would be accepting crypto for a major Keith Haring painting it is offering at its upcoming “London to Paris” sale on June 30.

The painting is estimated at $5.4 million to $6.2 million (£3.9 million to £4.5 million).

Christie’s said the subject matter of the untitled 1984 picture may help broaden the field of interested buyers. “As one of the earliest depictions in contemporary art of the home computer, it is well suited to a cross-over audience of digital art and traditional art collectors,” the auction house said in a statement.

Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

The diamond will be offered in a single-lot live auction on July 9 to kick off Sotheby’s new “Luxury Edit” series in Asia, which will offer jewels, watches, handbags, and sneakers.

The diamond is available for by-appointment viewings at Sotheby’s New York headquarters and will be displayed in Hong Kong in the lead-up to the sale from July 3 to 8.

Calling it “a truly symbolic moment,” Sotheby’s deputy chairman of jewelry in Asia, Wenhao Yu, remarked: “The most ancient and emblematic denominator of value can now, for the first time, be purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency. Never was there a better moment to bring a world-class diamond such as this to the market.”

Josh Pullan, the managing director of the auction house’s global luxury division, said there has been voracious appetite over the past year for jewels and other luxury items.

“Increasingly that demand is coming from a younger, digitally native generation, many of whom are in Asia,” he said.

So far, the highest prices recorded for works where cryptocurrency was accepted or involved have been for NFTs—particularly Beeple’s First 5,000 Days, which Christie’s auctioned in March for $69 million.

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