Sotheby’s, the storied auction house responsible for many top-tier NFT sales, is taking its next step into Web3 with the largest ever live auction of digital art. The event will take place on June 15th in New York City and feature some of the best generative art of previous years, all from Three Arrows Capital’s (3AC) GRAILS collection.
“Presenting this curated group of works in a live auction in Sotheby’s storied saleroom will, for the first time, showcase the range of generative art as an artform and bring digital art to a whole new audience of collectors,” Michael Bouhanna, Sotheby’s Head of Digital Art and NFTs, said in a statement shared with Rarity Sniper.
The auction will feature 37 artworks, which Sotheby’s expects to fetch an excess of $5 million. It comes on the heels of two other sales of GRAILS NFTs, one in a public auction and the other in a private event. So far, the sales have netted $6 million, with the proceeds going to the creditors of bankrupt 3AC.
A representative of Sotheby’s told Rarity Sniper that prospective buyers will be able to bid using cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, ETH, and USDC, in addition to fiat currency. The auction house was the first to allow bidding in cryptocurrency for physical artworks in 2021, a move at the time that observers considered innovative.
In its commitment to artists, Sotheby’s will honor any resale royalties from the sales. Royalties have been a hot topic in the non-fungible token space for months, as marketplaces have cut creator royalties to gain market share. Some collections have taken to enforcing royalties at the smart contract level to counter these moves.
Meet the Artworks Featured in the Auction
Generative art, which typically involves the use of code to create artistic renderings of patterns and shapes, is at the core of the Web3 art movement. Great generative art can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially when it’s from high-profile artists. Here is a quick cheat sheet to the top artworks featured in the auction:
- Ringers 879. Also called “The Goose,” Ringers 879 is part of a collection that made Dmitri Cherniak a well-known name in the Web3 space. This particular piece explores the intrinsic random nature of generative art creation and is unique among works in the collection.
- Fidenza 216. Fidenza, a collection from Tyler Hobbs, is based on 999 inputs. It showcases the ability for generative art to produce a sensation of movement. 216 is an artwork that is perfectly balanced, with a spiral at its center.
- Chromie Squiggle 1780. Part of the genesis collection of Art Blocks, Chromie Squiggle NFTs depict a serpent of various colors that have different rarity traits. The non-fungible token set explores the ability of generative art to create surprises, all while adhering to a set of algorithms.
“The GRAILS collection has long been renowned throughout the digital art world, distinguished by the depths of its holdings for many of the leading generative artists at the center of the movement,” Bouhanna said.
Proceeds Will Go to Refund 3AC’s Creditors
The auctioning of the GRAIL collection comes with some good news: The Creditors of Three Arrows Capital (3AC) will receive the proceeds from the sales. 3AC declared bankruptcy in June of 2022 after the collapse of TerraUSD and Luna, an event that caused widespread panic in the cryptocurrency markets.
According to the latest reports, 3AC owes $3.5 billion to various creditors, including Blockchain.com, Voyager Digital, and Genesis Global Trading. Therefore, the proceeds of the auction will likely be a drop in the bucket, but they are a certainly a start to making these creditors whole.
A representative of Sotheby’s said that neither 3AC or any of its former principals are involved in the auction. Teneo, the court-appointed firm that oversees 3AC’s insolvency process, chose Sotheby’s to bring the GRAIL collection to the public for a competitive bidding process.