• The auction house will soon accept cryptocurrencies as payment through a partnership with exchange Coinbase, starting with Banksy’s “Love is in the Air”
  • Sotheby’s is partnering with crypto exchange Coinbase to facilitate the May 12 auction

Sotheby’s will be accepting bitcoin and ethereum as payment for Banksy’s iconic painting “Love is in the Air” later this month. This marks the first time in history that an auction house will accept cryptocurrencies as payment for a physical artwork. 

Sotheby’s is partnering with crypto exchange Coinbase to facilitate the May 12 auction, the auction house announced Tuesday. Coinbase will support bidding, which is estimated at $3 million to $5 million. The exchange will also help manage price fluctuations, according to a blog post Tuesday. 

“Fittingly, the pairing brings together the biggest disruptor in finance with one of the most notable disruptors in the art world – Banksy,” Sotheby’s wrote in a statement Tuesday. 

Sotheby’s will conduct the auction in USD, but the buyer and artist will have the option to transact in either crypto or fiat currencies.

In March, Mike Winkelmann’s non-fungible token (NFT) digital artwork “Everydays – The First 5,000 Days” sold for nearly $70 million at Christie’s. It was the first ever digital artwork sale by a major action house for a piece that does not exist in a physical form. 

While cryptocurrencies have already infiltrated the world of digital art, Coinbase said this collaboration with Sotheby’s could pave the way for future physical art cryptocurrency transactions. 

“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,” said Stefan Pepe, Sotheby’s chief technology officer, in a statement. 

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    Casey Wagner is a New York-based business journalist covering regulation, legislation, digital asset investment firms, market structure, central banks and governments, and CBDCs. Prior to joining Blockworks, she reported on markets at Bloomberg News. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Media Studies. Contact Casey via email at [email protected]