Sotheby’s to accept live-bidding in Ether for Banksy works
The auction represents the world-first fusion of a live auction and a cryptocurrency
Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker is set to field bids live from the New York saleroom in Ether (ETH) for Banksy’s artworks Trolley Hunters (2005) and Love Is In The Air (2006), representing a world-first fusion of a live auction and a cryptocurrency.
While bidding increments for both works will be announced in ETH, the winning bidders will have the option of paying the hammer price for each work in fiat currency or ETH, bitcoin (BTC) or USD Coin (USDC).
The artist’s net worth, based on his works – estimated to be worth around £50m ($66.9m, €58.4m) in total – makes his works’ auction debut part ofthe newly conceived ‘The Now Evening Auction’ on 18 November.
Sotheby’s became the first auction house to accept cryptocurrency as a payment option for a physical work of art when a separate painting by Banksy was offered for exhibition in the May 2021 Contemporary Evening Auction.
“Together, these milestones are offerings not only spotlight the artist’s position as the leading disruptor of the art world whose work resonates with the boundary-pushing ethos of the crypto community, but they demonstrate the innovative spirit in which Sotheby’s continues to experiment with and expand the possibilities of the auction format,” said the New York City-headquartered auction house.
Banksy’s Love is in the Air, one of the artist’s most cherished works on canvas, is estimated to be worth between $4m and $6m.
The image has become synonymous with the artist’s indelible graphic style, wry humour, and galvanizing political commentary, and is further distinguished by the inclusion of hand-painted flowers in oil, a unique feature rarely seen in Banksy’s oeuvre.
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“Banksy’s subject adopts the archetypal pose of civic unrest, preparing to hurl a projectile towards an unseen foe, however, the artist replaces the object with a bunch of flowers, disarming this image of violent unrest to create a work that is both a call for change and advocation of peace,” as Sotheby’s curators describe it.
On the other hand, Trolley Hunters, painted more than 15 years ago and unveiled in the artist’s seminal breakthrough exhibition ‘Barely Legal’ in Los Angeles in 2006, is estimated to be worth between $5m and $7m.
“It is a typically powerful, witty, and prophetic critique of society’s often irrational predilection for processed and packaged products. Depicting three prehistoric figures from the dawn of mankind in the act of hunting a herd of empty supermarket trolleys, the work is uncannily prescient,” said Sotheby’s curators.
“Trolley Hunters is an indictment against the excesses of consumerist society and has arguably never been as relevant as it is today, with the disruption to the global supply chain having brutally exposed the fragility of our fast-paced consumerist eco-system,” they added.
Viewers from across the globe will be able to follow the live-streamed broadcast of the auction across Sotheby’s’ social media channels, including the company’s dedicated Discord channel, Sotheby’s HQ in Decentraland, and via Sothebys.com.