XCOPY, Right Click and Save as Guy (2018). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s has added a secondary marketplace to its Web3-focused venture Sotheby’s Metaverse.

The auction house has aggressively courted the NFT space since early 2021, positioning itself as the go-to place to sell and collect blue-chip digital work. Sotheby’s has hosted landmark NFT sales of solo artists, such as Pak; curated group shows, most recently a survey of contemporary glitch art; and flogged collections, including the upcoming sale of NFTs from the bankrupt hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.

And it’s working. To date, Sotheby’s has generated north of $100 million in NFT sales.

The latest move from Sotheby’s is a play to compete with other secondary marketplaces and gain further Web3 credit with collectors and artists alike. The sales system is fully on-chain, allowing users to buy instantly in Ethereum or Polygon Matic with infrastructure powered by Mojito, a Web3 platform Sotheby’s backed in 2021.

“The decision to expand Sotheby’s Metaverse to a peer-to-peer secondary market allows us to offer collectors more options for discovering and selling digital art,” Michael Bouhanna, Sotheby’s Head of NFTs told Artnet noting the auction house remains “fully committed” to continuing its Natively Digital auction series.

The platform is artist-centric. Every few months, Sotheby’s will rotate in a crop of artists, whose background, technique, and significance will be lavishly explained in typical auction house fashion. Users will have access to the full portfolio of works made by an artist across other NFT marketplaces — it’s only marketplace, Bouhanna says, that is offering this. It’s an aggregator of sorts allowing holders of work by the selected artists to add their NFTs to the platform without consulting Sotheby’s. It’s peer-to-peer, but with Sotheby’s setting the topics of conversation. The auction house will charge a 2.5 percent seller fee.

Sarah Zucker, Madame de Gateau (2021). Photo courtesy Sotheby’s.

The Sotheby’s marketplace is also notable for its stance on royalties. As the number of NFT marketplaces proliferated and the crypto bear market lumbered on, a race to the bottom ensued with the likes of Magic Eden and LooksRare moving to royalty-optional models. Some removed them entirely. The pledge from Sotheby’s to automatically pay artists according to their on-chain royalty rate will make it an attractive platform for artists.

“We felt it was critical to ensure resale royalties were a core component of our secondary market,” Bouhanna said. “As one of the guiding principles underpinning the web3 ethos, we are proud to have as part of Sotheby’s Metaverse.”

Sotheby’s has launched its secondary marketplace with 13 of the highest profile creators in the digital art space. This includes A.I. art stars Claire Silver, Sofia Crespo, and Refik Anadol, generative artists Tyler Hobbs and Pindar van Arman, and leading digital creators Hackatao, IX Shells, and XCOPY.

The next step will come in June with Sotheby’s Metaverse creating a digital gallery of works on the secondary market alongside digital art collector Cozomo De’ Medici.


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