Sotheby’s, the 277-year-old auction house, is launching its own immersive digital experience to offer prospective buyers a new way of engaging with the latest art-world craze — non-fungible token (NFT) artworks — according to a press release shared with Forkast.News.

Fast facts

  • Sotheby’s is creating a metaverse to allow users to explore and learn about the 53 available artworks in an immersive digital world. Those who are interested in purchasing any pieces within that realm will be able to explore further using their own digital avatar created by renowned crypto designer Pak. Sotheby’s plans on expanding the services offered through the metaverse to include primary offerings, dynamic auctions, open editions and capabilities to mint generative artworks. The auction house is accepting payment in Ether, Bitcoin, USDC or a range of fiat currencies.
  • “Natively Digital 1.2: The Collectors,” the first auction to take place in the metaverse, will open for viewing today. Bidding will begin October 18 and end October 26. It is the second NFT auction in this series, and Sotheby’s says it plans this to be the firm’s flagship biannual NFT auction.
  • “From the moment we first conceptualized our debut NFT sale, we recognized that Sotheby’s was in a unique position to bridge the burgeoning NFT ecosystem with the traditional art world,” said Max Moore, co-head of digital art sales at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. “Since then, we have spent months exploring every aspect of the digital art landscape, aligning with some of the most influential minds of the NFT movement to architect a custom marketplace that prioritizes curation and customization.”
  • A metaverse seeks to emulate and expand upon elements of the real world and users are able to virtually inhabit it. The idea was recently in the headlines as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social media giant was researching how to implement metaverses with the existing platform. Metaverses have been depicted in popular culture such as in the book-turned-film franchise “Ready Player One,” but virtual-world games such as Second Life or World of Warcraft could already be considered types of metaverses.
  • Sotheby’s Metaverse was designed and will be operated by Mojito, a new company creating custom NFT marketplaces. It is built on Ethereum and EVM-compatible networks.
  • Sotheby’s has been an early adopter of crypto and blockchain in the auction world; earlier this year at an auction in Hong Kong the company sold The Key 10138, a 101.38-carat, pear-shaped diamond, for HK$95.1 million (US$12.3 million) in an unspecified cryptocurrency, making it the most expensive piece of jewelry sold through crypto.