News came in that the largest, and perhaps most traditional branches of the art market, the auction house Christie’s, will officially be accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment—opening the auction house universe to a larger audience. Although, for the time being, this applies only for one artwork, but this can be read as a move towards a change in the rules of art purchasing and acquiring. There are so many advantages that cryptocurrency affords, and if the predictions are true, this is going to shift the way we buy art moving forward.
Christie’s announced that it will be auctioning a work by Mike Winkelmann, who also goes by Beeple, titled “Everydays – The First 5000 Days.” This event is a standalone sale and will run from February 25 till March 11. Christie’s has said that they will be accepting Ethereum as a payment for the artwork’s principal price. Ethereum, currently trading at $1,600 per token, is essentially like Bitcoin, but can be programmed and better regulated. Many have used the expression “smart money” to explain this. Even though Christie’s is accepting cryptocurrency, the premium (which is the fee that an auction house tacks on to the price), would have to be paid in dollars.
It feels like we are at the precipice of a great shift in the way we deal with money. It seems that crypto is slowly becoming a more and more established and mainstream way of conducting business. With this sale, Christie’s will be dipping their toes, so to speak, in dealing with cryptocurrency and giving it a shot. It is, however, interesting to think about this in terms of motives. It seems that the auction house is more interested in breaking into new audiences and markets rather than being invested in shifting traditional art markets. In October and December, Beeple’s artworks were selling wildly online, and the payment method was cryptocurrency. Christie’s probably took notice and realized that there is a whole market of art buyers that remains untapped, and that’s because they want to use cryptocurrency as a form of payments.
Following GameStop’s recent rise thanks to Redditors, the shift in the stock market, and everyone beginning to realize the power of cryptocurrency (take, for example, Elon Musk’s tweet which sent DogeCoin soaring), the world as we know it, and money as we’re used to it, may be forever changing. It is one of those situations where you either get in the car, or you’re left behind.
Photo via Christie’s