Crypto Billionaire Justin Sun Has Revealed Himself as the Buyer of the Macklowes’ $78.4 Million Giacometti

The 31-year-old CEO plans to donate the work, as well as several others, to his foundation.

Alberto Giacometti, Le Nez Conceived in 1947; this version conceived in 1949 and cast in 1965. Image courtesy Sotheby's.
Alberto Giacometti, Le Nez Conceived in 1947; this version conceived in 1949 and cast in 1965.
Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Have you dismissed the discourse about young, crypto-rich collectors from Asia disrupting the art market as an overstatement? Well, think again.

Justin Sun, the Chinese-born, 31-year-old tech billionaire founder of the cryptocurrency platform TRON, has announced himself as the buyer of Giacometti’s Le Nez (1947), which sold for $78.4 million at Sotheby’s sale of the Macklowe Collection in New York on Monday. The work, which had an estimate of $70 million to $90 million, was the second-priciest lot of the record-setting evening.

Praising it as one of Giacometti’s “most essential and far-reaching sculptures,” Sun noted that the haunting post-World War II sculpture of a bronze head with an extremely long, pointy nose was the cover of Sotheby’s catalogue for the Macklowe sale. Another version appeared on the cover of the catalogue for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s 2018 Giacometti retrospective, “which proves the significance of this sculpture in Giacometti’s creative career and the influence of art history,” he said.

Sun—who is also the CEO of file-sharing software company BitTorrent—is perhaps best known in the art world as the underbidder for Beeple’s $69 million Everydays: the First 5000 Days. But as he shared on Twitter, he has been more successful of late in buying both digital and old-fashioned art.

Justin Sun Yuchen, founder of Tron and CEO of BitTorrent, speaks during Ifeng Finance Summit at China World Summit Wing on November 4, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jiang Xin/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

Justin Sun, founder of Tron and CEO of BitTorrent, speaks during Ifeng Finance Summit at China World Summit Wing on November 4, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jiang Xin/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

In addition to Le Nez, Sun said he had also recently acquired KAWS’s Untitled (Kimpsons) (2001) from a Sotheby’s sale organized by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou for HK$2.5 million ($323,647) and Murat Pak’s Cube. That NFT was given to the individual who purchased the most Open Edition cubes by the artist (priced at $1,500 each) during Sotheby’s first ever NFT auction in April.

According to Sun, all three of these works will be donated to his APENFT Foundation, which is linked to an NFT marketplace of the same name. Although their precise fate remains unclear, Sun said the gift of Le Nez will enable “our community to have the opportunity to appreciate it through online and offline channels and get inspiration from it.”

This is not Sun’s only art-and-crypto endeavor. Earlier this year, he also announced he had bought Pablo Picasso’s painting of Marie-Therese Walter, Femme nue couchée au collier (Marie-Thérese) (1932), for £14.6 million ($20 million) and Andy Warhol’s Three Self Portraits (1986), a triptych of “fright wig” portraits, for £1.4 million ($2 million) at Christie’s.

Both of those works, he said at the time, were acquired for the “JUST NFT Fund,” which aims to register major works of art as NFTs on the blockchain. The relationship between the fund and the foundation is not yet clear.

In an open letter published in March about his vision for the art and NFT space, Sun wrote: “We believe the art space is also subject to the 80–20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, where only the value of the artists sitting at the tippy-top of the pyramid can stand the test of time.”

Neither Sotheby’s nor Sun immediately responded to a request for further comment.


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