Renowned art auction house Sotheby’s has recently announced the launch of its new peer-to-peer and specially curated secondary marketplace for non-fungible tokens and digital artworks.
Through its Web3 division, the auction house will enable collectors to sell and purchase directly on the new platform. The sales system will be fully on-chain, leveraging the Ethereum and Polygon networks. Users on the platform can pay using either ETH or MATIC tokens.
Notably, the platform has been involved in several groundbreaking NFT sales, including the $11.7 million “Covid Alien” CryptoPunk sale in June 2021, the sale of the World Wide Web source code for $5.4 million in July 2021, and the $3.4 million sale of a rare Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT in October 2021.
In April 2023, Sotheby’s faced backlash for the lack of women artists in its Natively Digital exhibition roster, which focused on glitch artists in the NFT space. Following public criticism, the auction house paused the exhibition and eventually relaunched it with a more diverse group of artists.
Now, it is diving deeper into the digital asset waters by launching its secondary marketplace.
“The opportunity to expand Sotheby’s Metaverse with a fully on-chain peer-to-peer market is an important step forward in our evolution within the digital art and collectible space,” said Sotheby’s vice president and head of NFTs and digital art Michael Bouhanna.
According to Bouhanna in a press release, the launch represents Sotheby’s further commitment to the NFT community and creates a space for collectors.
“The opportunity to expand Sotheby’s Metaverse with a fully on-chain peer-to-peer market is an important step forward in our evolution within the digital art and collectible space,”
Michael Bouhanna, vice president and head of NFTs and digital art at Sotheby’s
For a limited time, the marketplace will feature a rotating selection of digital artists hand-picked by Sotheby’s specialists.
Initial offerings will include works from 13 artists, such as Refik Anadol, Pindar van Arman, Hackatao, Tyler Hobbs, Claire Silver, XCOPY, Diana Sinclair, IX Shells, Sarah Zucker, Sebastião Salgado, Osinachi, Sofia Crespo and Sam Spratt.
Sotheby’s aims to use its brand name to attract high-value bidders and maintain its ability to attract top talent in the Web3 space by continuing to honor artist royalties, including on its secondary marketplace. Using smart contracts on its resale platform, any transaction of any work will automatically pay artists based on their chosen on-chain royalty rate.
This decision is especially important. Many have reduced the number of royalty payments made to artists in an attempt to lure more users and expand their market share — including popular platforms such as OpenSea and Blur — which has led to disputes among the community.
“Sotheby’s commitment to honoring artist royalties comes amidst a larger debate about royalties within the NFT community,” said the auction house.
“And [It] signals Sotheby’s artist-first ethos as one of the only major NFT marketplaces committed to artist resale royalties.”
Aside from launching a new marketplace, the auction house plans to establish a new digital art gallery through the Web3 art gallery platform Oncyber in June.
The exhibition will showcase selected works from the secondary market, with different rooms curated by different artists and collectors. One will feature some curated works from the famed collection of pseudonymous well-known digital art collector Cozomo de’ Medici.