Two years ago, the landscape of digital art was very different. The incredible sales of digital tokens by unknown artists, who were now up against the biggest names in modern art, shocked the market. The world struggled to understand this abrupt change in the creative scene. The first of its kind, Sotheby's Metaverse, debuted in October 2021. It is a platform that connects the constantly expanding web3 audience with the traditional art auction format. It opened the door for a new era in the art world and was run by a significant auction house.

The platform made significant progress in May toward enhancing its already industry-leading capabilities. They did this by introducing a line of finely curated digital art and collectibles on the secondary market specifically for their users. Additionally, they have moved to a fully on-chain structure in which the Ethereum and Polygon blockchains will be used for peer-to-peer transactions.

In its first year of operation, Sotheby's Metaverse brought in more than $120 million from a number of digital art-related sales. By engaging digital artists and implementing programs similar to their physical arts programs, the firm has expanded on its success in 2023. These projects include single artist sales, featuring digital pioneers such as Vera Molnár and Martin Grasser. In less than an hour, their "Themes and Variations" collection sold out, bringing in 631 ETH ($1.2 million). Additionally, this sale was Sotheby's first trial run of the Dutch auction style. With additional carefully selected sales, including the $11 million GRAILS auction, which turned into the most valuable live auction of digital art, the auction house has also broken new records. Sotheby's has also dabbled in pop culture through partnerships with K-Pop artists and sports players.


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Because of Sotheby's curated sales success, Metaverse Expansion was created to present a carefully chosen selection of artists and their pieces of art. Vera Molnár, Tyler Hobbs, XCOPY, IX Shells, Sarah Zucker, Refik Anadol, Sam Spratt, Claire Silver, Pindar van Arman, Sofia Crespo, Diana Sinclair, Osinachi, Hackatao, and Sebastião Salgado are among the artists included in the first group. In addition to providing collectors with guidance, the critical research that has been done on these pieces of art places them in the historical context of art, thereby solidifying their place in the canon. Furthermore, Sotheby's smart contract recognizes royalties from artists' resale sales, enabling artists to get paid each time their works are resold. Furthermore, Etherium is accepted for all sales in the secondary market.


One thing is certain in the ever-evolving web3 landscape: digital art is a groundbreaking innovation with unique utility. Exchange prices and market projections fluctuate, records are broken frequently, and token trends come and go quickly. With the use of a unique signature type provided by the blockchain, artists can better secure and promote their works. Online marketplaces and platforms must change to meet this new challenge, and Sotheby's is leading the way in innovation by fusing web3 with the world of contemporary art.


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The auction house's most recent attempt to connect art and its collectors is the Sotheby's Metaverse Expansion. Vice President and Head of Digital Art at Sotheby's Michael Bouhanna has stated that the company's commitment to the development of an area for knowledgeable collectors and the inclusion of a carefully selected group of artists who have made a substantial contribution to the advancement of the digital art movement in their secondary market is highlighted.


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Photos: NFT project sold on Sotheby's Metaverse by Sam Sprett

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