* Sotheby's NFT sale fetches $17.1 million
* Alien CryptoPunk sold for $11.8 million
* Sotheby's opens virtual gallery in Decentraland
LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) - A non-fungible token (NFT) of a
digital artwork called a "CryptoPunk" sold for $11.8 million on
Thursday, auction house Sotheby's said.
CryptoPunks are a set of 10,000 pixel-art characters made by
Larva Labs in 2017. The one sold by Sotheby's -- "CryptoPunk
#7523" -- is of the sought-after Alien variety with blue-green
skin, and wearing a medical mask.
The work is in the form of an NFT - meaning it is
authenticated by blockchain, which certifies its originality and
ownership. The NFT is sent to the buyer's cryptocurrency wallet;
no physical artwork changes hands.
"CryptoPunk #7523" was sold for $11,754,000 as part of the
Sotheby's online auction "Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale",
which fetched a total of $17.1 million across works by 27
It was bought by the Israeli entrepreneur Shalom Meckenzie,
who is the largest shareholder of digital sports company
DraftKings, Sotheby's said.
Michael Bouhanna, Contemporary Art Specialist at Sotheby's
said the sale demonstrated continued strong demand for NFTs.
"We are excited to continue to explore new and interesting
ways in presenting these cutting-edge works."
Anyone can view the artworks the NFTs represent, but only
the buyer has the official status of being the owner.
SOTHEBY'S IN THE METAVERSE
Although the sale was on online auction, the works were
displayed on screens in Sotheby's exhibitions in New York,
London and Hong Kong.
Sotheby's also opened its first ever virtual gallery: a
replica of its real-world building on New Bond Street in London,
in the online virtual world Decentraland.
Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual world, in which
users can walk around with friends, visit buildings, go to
events and display their NFT artwork collections.
"To those who say, "yeah but you can't hang 'em on your
wall", this is where virtual social worlds like Decentraland
come in," said Dave Carr, a spokesman for the Decentraland
"Virtual worlds are the natural home of digital art NFTs."
NFTs exploded in popularity in February and March. An NFT
artwork fetched $69.3 million at Christies, in the first sale
by a major auction house of an artwork with no physical form.
Sotheby's first NFT auction was in April, with digital works
by the artist known as "Pak" fetching $16.8 million.
"Quantum" by Kevin McCoy, a simple geometric animation also
featured in Thursday's auction, sold for $1.47 million.
Sotheby's said it was the first NFT ever made, having been
"minted" in 2014. A work by Pak was also sold for $528,200.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; additional reporting by
Aleksandra Michalska; editing by Philippa Fletcher)