Sotheby’s Launches Metaverse, a Dedicated Digital Art Platform, With a Little Help From Pak, Paris Hilton, and Time Magazine
The NFT arms race is heating up another notch.
The engagement between the high end art world and digital art—specifically NFTs or non-fungible tokens—continues to expand at a ferocious pace. In the latest major move in the new space, Sotheby’s is launching Sotheby’s Metaverse, its very own dedicated platform aimed at digital collectors offering a curated selection of NFTs chosen by the auction house’s specialists.
Calling the initiative “an industry first,” the auction house boasted that “Sotheby’s is the only auction house to build a proprietary, custom NFT marketplace that will serve as a destination for NFT sales.”
Over the past year, Sotheby’s has partnered with crypto artists, curators, and collectors as it looked to tap the explosion of interest in blockchain-based art assets. The new, proprietary NFT marketplace aims to serve as a virtual gathering space for the most sought-after NFTs, combining a curated selection with “cutting-edge Web3 technology.”
Bidders will need to create a personal profile and receive a unique avatar created by crypto designer and digital artist Pak, who was the subject of the auction house’s debut NFT sale in April of 2021. Pak’s “The Fungible” collection brought nearly 3,000 new buyers to Sotheby’s and garnered over $17 million in sales.
On Sotheby’s Metaverse, buyers can make final payments in an array of cryptocurrencies, or traditional cash (fiat currencies).To mark the launch, Sotheby’s has unveiled a new Twitter handle @Sothebysverse, as well as a dedicated Discord discussion platform.
While Michael Bouhanna and Max Moore continue to serve as co-heads of digital art sales, managing director Sebastian Fahey is taking on the role of executive lead for Sotheby’s Metaverse. They plan to extend NFT activities into areas including contemporary art, luxury and fashion, sports, music, entertainment, science, and technology.
“When Sotheby’s first entered the world of NFTs earlier this year, it was immediately clear that we had so far only scratched the surface of the potential of this new medium, and of NFTs,” said Fahey. “We are in a unique position at Sotheby’s to apply our expertise and curation to the burgeoning world of art for the digitally native generation.”
The Metaverse launches with the second iteration of its “Natively Digital” sale, this time titled “Natively Digital 1.2: The Collectors.” It will feature 53 works from 19 high-profile NFT collectors.
The NFT collectors include VerticalCrypto Art, Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, Pranksy, 888, j1mmy.eth, Seedphrase, and WhaleShark, in addition to DJ, producer, and Benihana heir Steve Aoki and DJ, reality TV star, and Hilton Hotels heiress Paris Hilton.
They have contributed works from well-known NFT artists like Dmitri Cherniak, Hackatao, Hideki Tsukamoto, 0xDEAFBEEF, Erick SnowFro, XCopy, Bored Ape Yacht Club of Yuga Labs, Larva Labs, Kevin Abosch, WhIsBe, Brendan Dawes, and Serwah Attfuah.
There is also a contribution from Time magazine, “an exclusive typographical artwork” by the magazine’s creative director D.W. Pine. Called The Lines of History (2021), the work features 5,044 lines that have been featured on the cover of the magazine, including “Is God Dead?”, “Are You Mom Enough?”, and “Yep, I’m Gay.”
The catalog can be viewed at metaverse.sothebys.com, and bidding is open from October 18-26.
To date, Sotheby’s has sold more than $70 million of NFTs/digital art, a spokesperson told Artnet News. Still, this puts them behind arch-rival Christie’s, which recently announced that it had topped $100 million in worldwide NFT sales.
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