Phillips, the leading United States auction house, will accept crypto as payment for a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), specifically, listed as payment options.
It has been reported that the showstopper 16-foot painting, “Untitled, 1982,” is “estimated in the region of $70 million” (around 1,650 BTC or 25,513 ETH) and will go under the hammer in New York City on May 18.
Scott Nussbaum, the Senior International Specialist for 20th-century and Contemporary Art at Phillips, said that buyers “are interested in the option of cryptocurrency as a method of payment for traditional artworks.”
However, given that “The beauty of Basquiat is his ability to inspire both seasoned and new collectors,” extending “the option for buyers to pay in cryptocurrency” is a deft move. Ultimately, Nussbaum explained, the acceptance of cryptocurrency as payment for artworks “will only continue to increase.”
“The interest in cryptocurrency and NFTs from the traditional art world is growing rapidly. And though it’s impossible to predict the future, we believe the intersection of digital and traditional art worlds will only continue to flourish.”
The report said that while this is not the first time that the auction house has explored cryptocurrency, the previous sale was an order of magnitude smaller. In June 2020, Phillips auctioned a Banksy piece, with Bitcoin and Ether as accepted payments. It sold for roughly $3.2 million. Coincidentally, a price target for the Basquiat of around $70 million is the hammer price for the infamous Beeple NFT auction, which closed in March 2021.
Likewise, auction house Christie’s managed the sale, inspiring further cryptocurrency-related auction house activities. In November 2021, rival auctioneer Sotheby’s took ETH bids in real-time for a Banksy auction. In May 2021, Sotheby’s partnered with Coinbase to manage auctions in Bitcoin and Ether before taking charge of crypto payments in-house.
Nussbaum summed up the fashion for cryptocurrencies in the art world, explaining that “There are many new collectors who are very engaged in cryptocurrency.”
Thus, he said:
“It was only a matter of time before it would be of interest as a method of payment.”