Luxury auction house Sotheby's will accept cryptocurrencies as payment for a Banksy artwork next week | Currency News | Financial and Business News

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  • Sotheby’s will accept cryptocurrencies when it auctions Banksy’s artwork ‘Love Is In The Air’.
  • The luxury auction house will present Banksy’s piece at its Contemporary Art Sale next week.
  • Last month, Sotheby’s launched an NFT collection, ‘The Fungible’, which it sold on Nifty Gateway.
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World famous auction house Sotheby’s said on Tuesday it will accept bitcoin or ether as payment when it presents Banksy’s artwork ‘Love Is In The Air’ at its Contemporary Art Sale on Wednesday next week in New York.

This will be the first time that a major auction house accepts cryptocurrencies for a physical artwork. So far, crypto payments have been reserved for digital artwork. Last month Sotheby’s, which is the largest auction house in the world, had launched ‘The Fungible’ collection by digital artist Pak, a series of NFT (non-fungible token) artworks which were auctioned off over multiple days on NFT sales platform Nifty Gateway.

The Banksy sale will be made in collaboration with crypto exchange Coinbase, which went public last month in a rollercoaster public listing. During the auction next week, bids will be taken in US dollars, but the buyer of Banksy’s work will be able to pay in bitcoin or ether. ‘Love Is In The Air’ is expected to sell for $3 million to $5 million.

The piece of art shows a young man in black and white, with his face partially covered, preparing to throw a bunch of colorful flowers far away. It is one of Banksy’s most famous works.

Banksy is most known for expressing political and social commentary through his art, which is often seen as a form of activism. The option to pay with crypto assets matches his legacy of being disruptive and innovative, a statement by Sotheby’s said. It also opens the door to art auctions to “a new generation of collectors” who are more digitalized, the statement said.

“With the growing adoption of digital art and NFTs, along with our increased focus on digital innovation, we’ve seen an increasing appetite among collectors for more seamless payment options when doing business with Sotheby’s.” Stefan Pepe, Sotheby’s chief technology officer said about the auction house pushing crypto and art closer together.

The adoption of cryptocurrencies as payment for physical art can be seen as a continuation of Sotheby’s crypto explorations. It seeks to reach new buyers by making the move into the crypto sphere, Pepe said.

Most buyers at last month’s auction of ‘The Fungible’ were first-time Sotheby’s clients, the auction house said.

Sotheby’s is not the only auction house that has started to explore crypto – Christie’s has sold multiple NFTs this year, including one by digital artist Beeple for a record-breaking $69 million. No other major auction house has yet accepted crypto payments in exchange for physical art.

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