Fine art auction house Sotheby’s says it will accept the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ether as payment for its upcoming sale of “Love is in the Air” an iconic work by the artist Banksy.
Bidding on the Banksy work, which goes up for auction on May 12, is estimated by Sotheby’s at between $3m and $5m, with the buyer for the first time having the “option to pay the hammer price with cryptocurrency”, the auction house wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
“Fittingly, the pairing brings together the biggest disruptor in finance with one of the most notable disruptors in the art world,” Sotheby’s wrote.
The crypto coin option is made possible via a payment integration partnership with Coinbase, the United States’ largest cryptocurrency exchange whose debut on the Nasdaq last month marked a watershed moment for the crypto industry.
“Through a bespoke solution, Coinbase will support payment estimated in the eight-figure range on Sotheby’s website, and in addition will help manage price fluctuations,” Coinbase wrote in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that it will lay the groundwork for “further adoption of cryptocurrency across Sotheby’s auctions”.
This is not Sotheby’s first foray into the world of crypto. Last month, the auction house held its debut sale of non-fungible tokens where an NFT by digital artist Pak fetched $1.36m after a fierce 90-minute bidding war.
This year has seen crypto investors splash out millions of dollars for digital art that only resides in the Ether, thanks to the exploding popularity of NFTs – digital files that verify who the rightful owner is of a one-of-a-kind item.
In March, an NFT artwork by American artist Mike Winkelman, also known as Beeple, titled “Everydays – The First 5000 Days” sold at auction at Christie’s for nearly $70m.