Auctioneer offers to sell $70 million worth of artwork in exchange for BTC or ETH

Phillips, a famous auction house in the United States, will sell a Baqueirat collection in May. Bitcoin and Ether are accepted as payment methods.

Further evidence of cryptocurrency’s acceptance in the art industry, a prominent US auction house will accept cryptocurrency as payment for a series of artworks. Phillips is auctioning a Jean-Michel Basquiat collection, with payment choices including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).

Untitled, 1982, a 16-foot masterpiece, is “estimated in the area of $70 million” (roughly 1650 BTC or 25,513 ETH). It will be auctioned in New York on May 18th.

According to Scott Nussbaum, Senior International Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art at Phillips, purchasers “are intrigued in the possibility of using cryptocurrencies to pay for conventional artworks.”

Given that “the beauty of Basquiat is his capacity to excite both established and new collectors,” allowing customers to pay in bitcoin is a clever move. Accepting cryptocurrencies as payment for other efforts, Nussbaum argues, “will only continue to grow.”

“Cryptocurrency and non-volatile memory (NFTs) are gaining traction in the conventional art industry. And, although the future is hard to foresee, we think the nexus of digital and traditional art will continue to thrive.”

This is not the auction house’s first foray into cryptocurrencies, but the prior sale was on a far smaller scale. Phillips auctioned a Banksy artwork in June 2020, accepting Bitcoin and Ether as payment. It was sold for around $3.2 million.

Coincidentally, a target price of roughly $70 million for the Basquiat corresponds to the hammer price for the controversial Beeple NFT auction, which concluded in March 2021. Christie’s auction house oversaw the transaction, igniting more cryptocurrency-related auction house activity.

In November 2021, Sotheby’s competitor auction house accepted real-time ETH bids for a Banksy sale. In May of that year, Sotheby’s worked with Coinbase to conduct Bitcoin and Ether auctions before assuming responsibility for crypto payments in-house.

Nussbaum summarises the bitcoin craze in the art industry by stating that “there are a lot of new collectors who are really involved in cryptocurrency.” “It was simply a matter of time until it gained traction as a payment option.”

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