‘Nvm, decided to hodl,’ an NFT trader taunted Sotheby’s during a $30 million USD auction. Sotheby’s, the world’s oldest art auction house, revealed last year that it had achieved the best sales total in its 277-year history. It said it pulled in $7.3 billion in total, thanks in part to a new generation of collectors drawn to emerging categories like streetwear and NFTs, which accounted for about $100 million in sales.
This $100 million may be a small portion of Sotheby’s total auction revenue in 2021, but it represents a precipitous surge in NFT demand, fueled in part by the success of individual artists like Beeple and Pak, as well as crypto collectives like Bored Ape Yacht Club. It also indicates the auction house’s desperation to join on the bandwagon and extract as much profit as possible before the NFT bubble explodes.
While usually auctions generate a lot of excitement, Sotheby’s, on the other hand, appeared to be out of touch, after creating a lot of buzz around an eye-watering CryptoPunks sale (ironically dubbed “Punk It!“), only to have it fall through at the last minute.
The sale centered around a single lot of 104 CryptoPunk NFTs–algorithmically-produced, pixelated avatars–now held by an unidentified consignor, known as 0x650d, and was set to go live on February 23, with a benchmark estimate of $30 million USD. The complete collection was removed at the seller’s request 25 minutes after the sale was scheduled to begin at Sotheby’s in New York.
0x650d didn’t seem to provide any additional information on their decision to leave right away. Sotheby’s Metaverse is the institution’s virtual world, and the auction house simply tweeted: “Following discussions with the consignor, tonight’s Punk It sale has been withdrawn. Thank you to our panelists, guests and viewers for joining us.”
Similar last-minute measures are normally implemented only when there is no interest in the lots, in order to protect their reputation if they don’t sell. The auction room was filled this time (as reported by the The New York Times), and the opening bid was set at $14 million. According to multiple reports, 0x650d purchased the collection for $7 million in the summer of last year, making for a very profitable short-term flip.
The only answer we have is 0x650d’s casual response to their original February 8 tweet regarding the “highest profile NFT sale of all time.” “Nvm, decided to hodl,” they wrote in a new statement released immediately after the Sotheby’s announcement.
That’s not a typo, in case you’re not up on your crypto lingo. “HODL” is a common word that refers to holding on to your crypto assets rather than selling them in the (often erroneous) hope that their value will rise. Some investors think it’s an abbreviation for “hang on for dear life.”
Aside from the short message, 0x650d has mocked potential purchasers and the auction business itself with a few of memes about the non-sale. Obviously, it’s difficult to determine whether 0x650d was deliberately trolling the auction house to inflate the price of their small cartoon dudes, or if they were persuaded to yank the lot by external reasons like stock market instability and the plummeting price of Bitcoin.
In related news, competitor Christie’s sold NFTs worth $150 Million USD in 2021.