British auction house Phillips will accept ETH and Bitcoin in an upcoming auction of artist Banksy’s.
Phillips said that newly minted cryptocurrency millionaires may bid for an artwork by the England-based mystery British street artist Banksy estimated at US$2.8 million to US$4.1 million when it goes on auction in Hong Kong on Tuesday. While the bidding will be conducted in Hong Kong dollars, the winning buyer can also choose to pay using the cryptocurrencies bitcoin or ether for “Laugh Now Panel A”, which features a forlorn monkey wearing a sandwich board with the slogan “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge”.
Phillips’ decision to accept cryptocurrencies comes after Sotheby’s move last month. The New York-headquartered auction house said it would accept payment in bitcoin and ether for Banksy’s “Love is in the Air” oil and spray painting on canvas. The artwork sold for US$12.9 million, far exceeding its original estimate of US$3 million to US$5 million.
For “Laugh Now Panel A”, the present owner is receptive to accepting cryptocurrency to open up the bidding to a new pool of prospective buyers, and potentially achieve a higher sale price.
The exchange rate will be referenced from US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on the day of the auction, with the seller bearing the Hong Kong dollar to bitcoin volatility risk.
Auction houses are increasingly looking to accept bitcoin as payment as they look to tap business from this segment of newly minted cryptocurrency millionaires, said Olivier Marian, co-founder of Arteïa, a Swiss start-up that specialises in creating digital CVs for artists to prove the provenance of their work.
“With the gains seen in bitcoin and ethereum over the past one year, some investors have made huge amounts of money in cryptocurrencies,” said Marian. “For a long time these millionaires have been looking at ways to spend their virtual currency in the real world.”