Record-Breaking Sales as Sotheby’s Closes Auction of Historic NFTs

In its latest bid for the crown atop NFT auctions, Sotheby’s closed its second-ever NFT collection today, Natively Digital, with a record-breaking $11.8m sale of the rare alien Cryptopunk #7523.

With dozens of participating artists, it was one of the largest auctions to date, exhibited across Sotheby’s galleries in NYC, Hong Kong and London. The nearly 300-year-old auction house also made history by unveiling a replica of its London gallery in the virtual world Decentraland. Sotheby’s and co-curator Robert Alice selected works to represent the history and progression of cryptoart to where it stands today.

As is to be expected, the collection featured some of the most prominent players in the cryptosphere. “Wherever you are in the world, you are about to witness the historical sale of the rare alien Cryptopunk #7523” started the auction for @sillytuna‘s rare alien Cryptopunk #7523. While not the first Cryptopunk to be auctioned off, the rare alien #7523 (one of nine existing aliens and the only one aptly wearing a mask) went for a record-breaking $11.8 million (approx. 4696ETH at time of the sale). 

The pieces at Natively Digital capture a range of styles from the manically colourful and poppy to the more minimalist and abstract. Together they cover the farthest reaches of what the NFT art world looks like, starting with the very first NFT minted in 2014; Kevin McCoy’s ‘Quantum’. Impressively, the collection also manages to cover a wide diversity of technologies crypto and beyond powered by nameless. True to the experimental and DIY nature of NFTs, the works incorporate interactive elements involving temperature servers, morphing colours linked to wallet addresses and artificial intelligence in Alice’s own ‘iNFT’.


Sotheby’s Commissionaire Hans Lomulder greeting visitors in Decentraland

In addition, artist and musician Don Diablo’s piece, ‘INFINITΞ FUTURΞ’ was auctioned for an astounding $927,500. Mixing the physical and the digital, the work consists of a hologram cabinet that a cartridge hosting various NFTs can be inserted into, resulting in different visuals. In essence, the collector of this piece owns this work and whatever future NFTs are hosted on the cartridge. Another highlight in the collection includes the work of Pak, whose series also constituted Sotheby’s very first NFT sale in collaboration with Nifty Gateway (Read our interview with Pak). This time Pak auctioned off ‘Fade,’ an ever-changing piece transforming according to time and wallet address, for $528,200.

Matt Kane, Meules after Claude Monet

In addition, the collection featured a sweet homage to impressionism with ‘Meules after Claude Monet’ by .art adopter Matt Kane, inspired by Monet’s ‘Meules’ record sale in 2019. Kane’s version is a layered gigapixel image, accompanied by an installation in virtual reality world Cryptovoxels

While Kane’s version didn’t quite manage to reach the 110 million dollars of Monet’s original sale (‘Meules after Claude Monet’ went for $214,200), Natively Digital and its record sales represent a unique moment in art history. It’s just a matter of time before today’s NFT-artists get homages of their own in whatever exciting worlds technology opens up for us next. 

Cover image featuring: Cryptopunk #7523, Sarah Zucker’s Self Transcending, Kevin McCoy’s Quantum, Robert Alice x Alethea AI To the Young Artists of Cyberspace and Pak’s Fade.

Aleksandra Artamonovskaja
Aleksandra Artamonovskaja
Aleksandra has worked in consulting prior to joining the art world and is one of .ART's first employees. She contributes with articles covering the intersection of art and tech. You can connect with Aleksandra on LinkedIn