Today, legacy auction house Sotheby’s announced the launch of its secondary marketplace for fine art NFTs, according to information shared exclusively with nft now. The marketplace is a part of Sotheby’s Metaverse, the company’s digital artwork and collectibles platform. The peer-to-peer marketplace will feature fully on-chain sales showcasing a rotating selection of high-profile Web3 artists curated by Sotheby’s specialists. All transactions will take place on the Ethereum and Polygon networks. Collectors will be able to purchase works on the platform with ETH or MATIC.
Inaugural Selection of Web3-defining Artists
To commemorate the marketplace’s launch, Sotheby’s is offering collectors a chance to buy and list works by 13 Web3-defining artists, including Tyler Hobbs, XCOPY, Claire Silver, Diana Sinclair, Sam Spratt, Pindar Van Arman, and more.
Sotheby’s Metaverse History and Evolution
When Sotheby’s makes a move in Web3, people pay attention. The auction house has facilitated some of the most historic sales in the NFT world’s existence. Perhaps the most notable of these were Pak’s $17 million auction with the company in April 2021 and the first of the auction house’s Natively Digital series in June of the same year. Natively Digital saw Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s Quantum, the first NFT ever made, sell for over a million dollars. Recognizing the significance of the Web3 movement in the fine art world, the company launched Sotheby’s Metaverse in October 2021 and hasn’t looked back since.
Royalties Debate and Sotheby’s Stance
Due to the success the platform has seen through its primary sales initiatives, Sotheby’s Metaverse is now trying to establish itself as the go-to fine art platform for the secondary market as well. As such, it’s being deliberate in how it handles the hot-button issue of artist royalties in the NFT ecosystem. The auction house says it will honor artist royalties on its secondary platform via marketplace smart contracts and in accordance with artists’ stated on-chain royalty rate. The decision to support artists in this way comes at a time when platforms are lowering the amount of royalties they pay out to artists in a bid to attract more users and gain a majority share of market volume.
Upcoming Partnership with oncyber
In June, Sotheby’s will also establish a new digital art gallery through the Web3 art gallery platform oncyber, which will exhibit select works from the secondary market. For the oncyber gallery launch, Sotheby’s Metaverse is partnering with well-known digital art collector Cozomo de’ Medici, who will curate one of the gallery’s rooms to feature a selection of works from their famed collection.
Navigating Controversy and Market Challenges
The news of the marketplace and oncyber gallery comes in the wake of controversy for Sotheby’s. In April 2023, the company found itself the target of heated criticism when it announced the latest iteration of its Natively Digital series, a show honoring glitch artists in the NFT sphere that featured no women artists. After public outcry, Sotheby’s quickly paused and then relaunched the show featuring a more diverse lineup.
Coupled with the fact that volumes in the NFT market are at 20-month lows and floor prices for even the most sought-after fine art collections have fallen sharply as well, Sotheby’s secondary marketplace is entering the scene at a tricky time. Nonetheless, the auction house remains committed to its artist-first ethos and continues to support the Web3 community by offering new opportunities for collectors and artists alike.