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Record Setting Art Sale Sees Piece Sell for $1.25 Million in Bitcoin

Jun 19, 2018, 9:56AM
2 min, 42 sec READ

An unknown art collector has purchased a piece of art for a staggering 150 BTC ($1.25 million USD), the largest crypto-sum ever paid for artwork.

An unknown art collector has recently purchased a piece of art for a staggering 150 BTC ($1.25 million USD), marking the sale as the largest crypto art sale ever recorded. ĀTO Gallery, which facilitated the sale, is planning to bring the power of the blockchain into the world of art, in the hopes of tracking the values of artwork as it is bought and sold on the open market.

The piece, “Chasing Hearts/Northern Lights” by Benjamin Katz, was featured on the ĀTO Gallery website when the anonymous art collector contacted the gallery via Instagram. After discussing the piece with artist Ben Katz, and ĀTO Gallery Director Carrie Eldridge, the collector moved the conversation to Signal, an encrypted messaging service, where the bidder made an offer of 150 BTC. Initially, Eldridge was shocked, as Katz’s artwork typically sold for somewhere between $5000 and $10000, but after some deliberation with her fellow art curators, Eldridge was able to justify the sale,

I asked my team of art directors, and they said ‘Carrie, the price is the market price, if they offered that, and they feel that they want to pay that’—so we asked ‘are you sure?’ [the buyer] said ‘yes, absolutely.' 

Eldridge believes cryptocurrencies offer a powerful and unique opportunity for artists and collectors previously unavailable in the art world. In her view, the continuous public ledgers created by today’s cryptocurrencies allow the fluctuating values of an artist's work to be more accurately tracked when purchased on the blockchain. This helps artists price their pieces at the correct valuation, and helps art collectors ensure they are paying the correct amount.

I’ve had artists tell me, ‘I had a piece resold at Julien’s four years after I sold it. It went up 800 percent and I had no idea. I was still selling the screen prints at almost the same price'.

Eldridge and Āto also plan to launch their own cryptocurrency via an ICO in winter of 2018. The gallery hopes to raise $10 million with the ICO to help develop their blockchain platform. The platform will provide investors with “ĀTO tokens”, which can then be used to buy the individual tokens of the gallery’s artists. Each artist will be curated and assigned a value based on metrics such as past sales history, professional valuation and professional history by a custom-built algorithm. The idea is that these “tokenized artists” will be able to be more accurately represented in the world of art, with their art objects recorded on a public blockchain for the entire art world to see,

It’s about patronizing the artists, and making a very opaque market more transparent.

The worlds of crypto and art are starting to collide as crypto adoption takes hold. Tradiotionally, the very nature of art collecting has been intimately tied to money, and with crypto offering a creative and unique twist on how we exchange monetary value, it seems only fitting that the art world would be one of the first to embrace cryptocurrencies. 

Disclaimer: information contained herein is provided without considering your personal circumstances, therefore should not be construed as financial advice, investment recommendation or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions in cryptocurrencies.