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'CryptoPunk' NFT sells for $11.8 million at Sotheby's

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Pixel art image of the Cryptopunk #7523 non-fungible token (NFT) collectible created in 2017 is pictured in this handout obtained May 31, 2021. Courtesy of Sotheby's/Handout via REUTERS/Files

  • Sotheby's NFT sale fetches $17.1 million
  • Alien CryptoPunk sold for $11.8 million
  • Sotheby's opens virtual gallery in Decentraland

LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) - A non-fungible token (NFT) of a digital artwork called a "CryptoPunk" sold for $11.8 million on Thursday, auction house Sotheby's said.

CryptoPunks are a set of 10,000 pixel-art characters made by Larva Labs in 2017. The one sold by Sotheby's -- "CryptoPunk #7523" -- is of the sought-after Alien variety with blue-green skin, and wearing a medical mask.

The work is in the form of an NFT - meaning it is authenticated by blockchain, which certifies its originality and ownership. The NFT is sent to the buyer's cryptocurrency wallet; no physical artwork changes hands. read more

"CryptoPunk #7523" was sold for $11,754,000 as part of the Sotheby's online auction "Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale", which fetched a total of $17.1 million across works by 27 digital artists. read more

It was bought by the Israeli entrepreneur Shalom Meckenzie, who is the largest shareholder of digital sports company DraftKings (DKNG.O), Sotheby's said.

Michael Bouhanna, Contemporary Art Specialist at Sotheby's said the sale demonstrated continued strong demand for NFTs.

"We are excited to continue to explore new and interesting ways in presenting these cutting-edge works."

Anyone can view the artworks the NFTs represent, but only the buyer has the official status of being the owner. read more

SOTHEBY'S IN THE METAVERSE

Although the sale was on online auction, the works were displayed on screens in Sotheby's exhibitions in New York, London and Hong Kong.

Sotheby's also opened its first ever virtual gallery: a replica of its real-world building on New Bond Street in London, in the online virtual world Decentraland.

Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual world, in which users can walk around with friends, visit buildings, go to events and display their NFT artwork collections. read more

"To those who say, "yeah but you can't hang 'em on your wall", this is where virtual social worlds like Decentraland come in," said Dave Carr, a spokesman for the Decentraland Foundation.

"Virtual worlds are the natural home of digital art NFTs."

NFTs exploded in popularity in February and March. An NFT artwork fetched $69.3 million at Christie’s, in the first sale by a major auction house of an artwork with no physical form. read more

Sotheby's first NFT auction was in April, with digital works by the artist known as "Pak" fetching $16.8 million. read more

"Quantum" by Kevin McCoy, a simple geometric animation also featured in Thursday's auction, sold for $1.47 million. Sotheby's said it was the first NFT ever made, having been "minted" in 2014. A work by Pak was also sold for $528,200.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; editing by Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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