A dazzling diamond selling for millions at auction is nothing new for Sotheby’s. Perhaps more surprising is the 247-year-old auction house allowing the buyer to pay in cryptocurrency.
The Key 10138 diamond, a 101-carat pear-shaped diamond named to “symbolize the unlocking of a new era in commerce and technology,” sold for $12.3 million to an anonymous buyer last Friday at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. It’s the most expensive gem ever purchased with cryptocurrency, according to Sotheby’s.
The auction house announced last month that it would accept both bitcoin and Ether in addition to traditional payment for the diamond, although it did not disclose which crypto was used in the purchase of The Key 10138.
“The most ancient and emblematic denominator of value can now, for the first time, be purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency,” Wenhao Yu, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry in Asia, said in a statement.
The use of crypto will allow the auction house to reach a new clientele, “many of whom are from the digitally savvy generation,” Yu said in a press release.
Sotheby’s first accepted cryptocurrency in the sale of Banksy’s protest image “Love is in the Air” in May, which went for $12.9 million. Christie’s auction house also dipped its toes into the world of crypto, offering Keith Haring’s “Untitled” with the option to pay in cryptocurrency. The artwork went for $5.9 million last month.
Sotheby’s has also offered two NFT, or non-fungible token, collections this year. “The Fungible”, a collection by digital artist Pak, realized a total of $16.8 million. “Natively Digital”, which included Kevin McCoy’s “Quantum,” the first NFT ever minted, fetched a total of $17.1 million.