Sotheby’s Debuts First Curated Auction of Bitcoin Ordinals

Credit: Quantum Cats

Drawing on the success of its first Bitcoin Ordinals auction, Sotheby’s is starting the new year with a second: the first curated auction of Ordinals, the digital art tokens inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain. The auction, which will run between January 12th and 22nd, features artistic works from Shroomtoshi, Claudia Hart, and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, among others.

Michael Bouhanna, Sotheby’s Head of Digital Art, said in a statement shared with Rarity Sniper that last month’s sale of three ‘BitcoinShrooms’ was proof of the “explosive growth of Ordinals as a new arena for artists and creators.” He added that as the ecosystem continues to attract attention from collectors, “this new avenue will expand” on how we conceptualize digital collectibles.

Some of the works featured in this curated Ordinals auction include:

  • Inscription 21 by Shroomtoshi: The first ever digital artifact to pay homage to “21,” one of the most hallowed numbers in Bitcoin, as there will only ever be 21 million bitcoin tokens mined. It is an early inscription, which are generally highly sought after and represent the experimental beginnings of Ordinals.
  • MORE LIFE by Claudia Hart: A four-second animated loop with a clip taken from popular science-fiction film Blade Runner, this piece of art shows Batty, a renegade replicant, explaining to his creator, the founder of the Tyrell Corporation, why he is about to kill him. The artwork is a comment on our own virtual words, which can run on similar loops.
  • Brancher by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy: An algorithm that spikes into a frenzy of complex, then chaotic lines, before starting all over, this is a work from the creator of the first known NFT (“Quantum”) minted on the Namecoin blockchain. It symbolizes all the choices artists make when creating a work.

In addition, Sotheby’s is auctioning off rare sats: Lot 16, 17, and 18. Sats are the smallest unit of measure in the Bitcoin ecosystem, with some collectors believing that some sats are rarer than others due to the historical value of their corresponding Bitcoin blocks.

Sotheby’s Dives into World of Digital Art

Sotheby’s, the world’s second-largest auction house and one of the oldest, has dived deep into digital art in recent years, embracing the innovation and disruptiveness of NFTs even as prices have slipped, generally, into a bear market.

And in that bear market, Sotheby’s has bucked trends, holding one of the biggest digital art auctions in recent memory. In that auction, from the GRAILS collection of defunct Three Arrows Capital, The Goose sold for $6.2 million, marking a high point in digital art sales for that year.

Here are some headlines involving Sotheby’s over the past couple of years:

As these stories show, Sotheby’s continues to remain bullish on digital art even during tough times. That’s a good sign for the space.

Update: Natively Digital Ordinals Auction Booms

Sotheby’s Ordinals auction was a success, generating over 26 BTC or around $1.1 million. There were 641 bids, and all lots sold, with over half exceeding their high pre-auction estimates.

One of the biggest sales was the Genesis Quantum Cat, from a collection by the creators of Taproot Wizards. That Quantum Cat sold for 6.31 BTC or approximately $254,000. According to reports, the entire Quantum Cat collection cost $66,000 to inscribe on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Michael Bouhanna, head of digital and contemporary art at Sotheby’s, congratulated all those involved on the sale. This Ordinals auction was part of the auction house’s series called Natively Digital, which is held three times a year.