Art/Design, News & Events

Sotheby’s has entered the Metaverse

Something new for the auction house.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Jan 22, 2022

The NFT weapons race has reached a new level of intensity. The relationship between high-end art and digital art, specifically non-fungible tokens (NFTs), continues to grow at an insane speed. Sotheby’s has established Sotheby’s Metaverse, a specialized platform geared at digital collectors that offers a curated collection of NFTs picked by the auction house’s specialists, as the latest major move in the new field.


The program is being billed as an “industry first,” according to the company. “Sotheby’s is the only auction house to establish a private, tailored NFT marketplace that will serve as a destination for NFT sales,” they shared on their website. Sotheby’s has teamed up with crypto artists, curators, and collectors over the last year in order to capitalize on the surge in interest in blockchain-based art assets. The new NFT marketplace, which combines a curated selection with “leading-edge Web3 technology,” seeks to serve as a virtual meeting spot for the most sought-after NFTs.


Bidders must build a personal profile and obtain a one-of-a-kind avatar designed by crypto designer and digital artist Pak, who was the topic of the auction house’s first NFT sale in April of 2021. Pak’s “The Fungible” collection attracted approximately 3,000 new customers to Sotheby’s and generated sales of more than $17 million USD. Buyers can make final payments in a variety of cryptocurrencies or standard cash on Sotheby’s Metaverse. Sotheby’s launched a new Twitter handle, @Sothebysverse, as well as a dedicated Discord discussion site to commemorate the occasion.


While Michael Bouhanna and Max Moore will continue to handle digital art sales, managing director Sebastian Fahey will lead Sotheby’s Metaverse as executive lead. They intend to expand NFT activities to include modern art, luxury and fashion, sports, music, and entertainment, among other things.


The Metaverse opened with the second installment of its “Natively Digital” sale, dubbed “Natively Digital 1.2: The Collectors.” It included 53 pieces from 19 prominent NFT collectors. In addition to DJ, producer, and Benihana heir Steve Aoki, and reality TV personality and Hilton Hotels heiress Paris Hilton, the NFT collectors include VerticalCrypto Art, Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, and Pranksy, among others.


TIME Magazine has also contributed “an exclusive typographical artwork” by D.W. Pine, the magazine’s design director. The work, titled The Lines of History (2021), has 5,044 lines from the magazine’s cover, including “Is God Dead?” “Are You Mom Enough?” and “Yep, I’m Gay.”


The last collection was called Hackatao: Queens+Kings and sold out quickly on December 21, 2021.


Read more here on what an NFT is and how it’s changing the art market. Art galleries are also following into the metaverse, Pace Gallery has just launched their own NFT platform, Pace Verso.


Photo via Sotheby’s, Rare Pepe, PEPENOPOULOUS, 2016