Two Works by Banksy Auctioned for Ether at Sotheby’s

Before the ContitutionDAO’s defeat, a pair of paintings by artist Banksy together fetched 3,093 ETH, or about $12.5 million, in a historic first for the auction house.

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SOLD! Banging the gavel on a Bansky at Sotheby’s auction, November 18; Source: Sotheby’s YouTube channel

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key takeaways

  • The auction was the first time ETH pricing was used in a live auction at Sotheby’s
  • Banksy’s painting, ‘Love is in the Air’, sold for 1,696 ETH, ​​’Trolley Hunters’ was won for 1,397 ETH

“OK, ladies and gentlemen, we are moving now, of course, to the Banksys. We arrive at the two consecutive lots by Banksy where, as you know, I will be fielding bids in US dollars and ETH for the very first time in a live auction at Sotheby’s,” announced Oliver Barker, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe.

That was the prelude to two historic sales yesterday evening in New York, in an event “showcasing cutting edge works by the masters of today alongside the masters of tomorrow.” At the top of the live webcast, Barker explained that Sotheby’s currency converter board would display prices for all auctioned works in ether. But the two Banksy pieces would take the innovation one step further, as Barker would call out the live bidding in ETH as well.

“And how appropriate it should be for works by Banksy, the art world’s ultimate disruptor,” Barker explained.



Watch the auction replay


Bidding began on the first lot at 1,122 ETH or $4.5 million. It was estimated by Sotheby’s to sell for between $5 and $7 million. While the dual call evidently confused some participants and amused many of the staff handling the phone bidding in the live auction hall, the bidding ultimately escalated to 1,397 ETH or $5.6 million.

The currency conversion displayed online was not exactly matching the live call, but it was within a few ETH, reflecting the volatile nature of ether itself, which has dropped about -2.5% in the past 24 hours, along with a broader market sell off.

Banksy’s ‘Love is in the Air’ fared a bit better, as multiple bidders from as far as Hong Kong and London ran up the price to 1,696 ETH, gaveled in as $6.8 million.

Many crypto-enthusiasts, who were tuning in primarily to witness The ConstitutionDAO’s attempt to win a rare original copy of the US Constitution, were enamored by the spectacle of ETH being used as money in a live event setting.

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A version of the painting was previously sold by Sotheby’s in May, Blockworks reported, when cryptocurrency was also accepted for payment, but the auction was conducted in US dollars, and the work ultimately sold for $12.9 million.

The auction house also has a virtual property in Decentraland.


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