Fine arts dealer Sotheby’s is now accepting Bitcoin and Ether as payment methods. The first offering to test the response is Banksy’s Love is in the Air, which depicts a masked man throwing flowers.
This is made possible by partnering with Coinbase, which has set up a bespoke solution to enable this. Stefan Pepe, Sotheby’s Chief Technology Officer, said, by doing this, the firm is enhancing the client experience and appealing to a whole new clientele as well. The move represents another step towards cryptocurrency going mainstream.
Bitcoin as a Payment Method
Speaking to CNBC, CEO of Sotheby’s Charles Stewart said accepting cryptocurrencies is something the firm has been thinking about for a while now.
Stewart mentioned that the positive response to its recent Pak NFT auction, which netted a total of $16.8 million, gave the incentive to explore accepting cryptocurrency for physical art.
“This will be the first time cryptocurrency will be accepted as payment for physical artwork. We’re really excited to make this happen. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time. You may recall we had our first NFT sale a few weeks back. We had over 3,000 bidders and participants in that sales series.”
The first piece to test the waters will be Banksy’s Love is in the Air. Stewart said buyers can pay cash as well if they wish. He estimates the piece to net between $3-$5 million.
Banksy is a pseudonymous street artist whose real identity remains unconfirmed and the subject of much speculation.
He came to prominence during the 1990s and follows a subversive, satirical style that expresses anti-war and anti-authoritarian themes. His artworks are publically displayed, such as on walls or repurposed prop pieces. These are often resold, which involves the removal of walls in most cases.
The artist unofficially sells a limited run of pieces through an agency called Pest Control.