Dubai: Sotheby’s doing its part for NFTs? You read correctly.
Why would one of the world’s most revered names in fine art and antique auctioning want to be in the new world of digital art with its non-fungible (or NFT) tokens? Shouldn’t they be in two parallel universes of art?
Last week, Sotheby’s confirmed its association with the Visual Arts Commission of Saudi Arabia at the Ministry of Culture in Riyadh for a digital arts forum, which kicks off today (February 25). This is where it gets particularly interesting – the forum will be accompanied by the Kingdom’s first NFT presentation.
Sotheby’s Sebastian Fahey, who is the Managing Director for EMEA, explains why Sotheby’s and NFT are such a good match after all.
Shouldn’t Sotheby’s auctions be about selling something that retains its value over time? Why engage in NFTs where no base price has been set so far?
You could say we would be doing our story a disservice by not introducing ourselves. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing since 1744 – monitoring the market, identifying the next big thing, and delivering exactly what our customers are looking for at all times. given moment. When you think about it: When we started in 1744, we only sold books. It wasn’t until over 100 years later, in 1883, that we made the decision to start selling paintings. The change of course caused a sensation, but changing like that is our job.
We are constantly adding new – often unexpected – categories to the wide range of products we offer. There is a huge business opportunity: NFTs allow us to expand our reach and welcome new people into the collecting community, many of whom are migrating to other areas and will become major collectors.
Basically, it’s another opportunity for us to serve our customers, provide them with what they want, and introduce them to exciting new areas of fundraising. Sotheby’s brings its expertise through our dedicated specialists, who seek out and collaborate with those at the forefront of this space.
We offer expert curation and authentication to help our collectors confidently navigate this new medium with the security that comes with our brand.
Has Sotheby’s held NFT-themed auctions elsewhere? How do you arrive at a certain lot price for an asset that has not yet been tested?
Over the past year, Sotheby’s – and the art world in general – has witnessed a meteoric rise in NFTs. Since its first auction in April 2021, Sotheby’s sales in this category have reached approximately $100 million for 100 NFTs, setting several benchmarks along the way, including records for a single CryptoPunk (11.8 million dollars) and the highest total for an NFT auction here, which included 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs ($24.39 million for a single lot).
We check the art we offer for artistic quality —- as well as check it for compliance. The rules for NFTs are no different than those we have for anything we offer. All NFTs featured on the Sotheby’s Metaverse or sold at Sotheby’s auctions are carefully selected by Sotheby’s NFT specialists.
For Saudi Arabia, how will you organize the selected artists and their digital offerings? What is the most expensive NFT on offer at the Saudi event?
The Kingdom’s first NFT showcase will showcase the two most popular ways to display digital art – physical display (with projectors and screens) and a metaverse display. Organized as a comprehensive survey of NFTs for those who may not be familiar, the artwork covers major aspects – from early NFT to the Pop Digital genre and collectibles. These are loaned by international collectors, as well as a gallery.
We are thrilled to be part of Saudi Arabia’s first foray into the world of NFTs and digital art, an initiative that positions Saudi Arabia as a hub of digital innovation. As such, it was important to highlight local artists.
We include an NFT by emerging Saudi artist Ahaad Al Amoudi, who lives and works in Jeddah. The panel discussions will also include two Saudi artists, Al Amoudi herself, but also local visual artist Rashed Al Shashai.
Will this be an annual event?
Vision 2030 and the Ministry of Culture have defined an ambitious roadmap for the cultural and artistic development of the country. As part of this, the Visual Arts Commission is committed to progressive education arts programs which we support – as for many years we have been committed to investing in education.
The circumstances surrounding this partnership were particularly fortuitous. At the end of 2021, a delegation from Sotheby’s traveled to Riyadh for the opening of the Diriyah Biennale and were very impressed with what they saw. It seemed like the perfect setting to launch NFT’s first showcase in the Kingdom.