Recently minted cryptocurrency millionaires, unsure of what to do with their newfound wealth, can now bid for a $15 million 100-carat diamond at Sotheby’s auction — a first for a gem that valuable.

Sotheby’s 9 July auction comes as the art world and cryptocurrencies become more interlinked, with non-fungible tokens, which are smart contracts built on blockchain networks, selling for millions.

Those interested in buying the pear-shaped diamond can pay with either ether

or bitcoin
and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Commerce will facilitate the payment.

“The most ancient and emblematic denominator of value can now, for the first time, be purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency,” said Wenhao Yu, deputy chair of Sotheby’s jewellery in Asia, in a statement.

“Never was there a better moment to bring a world-class diamond such as this to the market.”

The diamond, which is being auctioned as part of Sotheby’s “luxury edit” sale series in Asia, is on display at its Hong Kong gallery from 3 to 8 July. It is the second-largest pear-shaped diamond ever to appear on the public market, the auction house said. Bidding online started on 25 June.

“The fact that cryptocurrency is to be accepted as payment also marks a significant moment in the evolution of the market: no other physical object with an estimate even approaching the US$10-15m (HK$78-118 million) estimate this diamond carries, has ever been publicly offered for purchase with cryptocurrency,” the auction house’s statement said.

Digital high-net-worth individuals have diversified their investments during the pandemic, with many buying rare editions of trainers, vintage sports cards and jewellery.

As of 07:46am on 7 July, bitcoin was trading at $34,790 and ether at $2,386.

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