The oldest auction house in the world has officially ventured into the newest trading world. This week, Sotheby’s is opening a replica of its London galleries in the Ethereum-operated Metaversum Decentraland.

Founded in 2015, Decentraland is a virtual reality blockchain platform where users create avatars to interact with each other, buy goods and services, and create art.

“We see spaces like Decentraland as the next frontier for digital art, where artists, collectors and viewers from all over the world can come into contact with one another and present art that is basically rare and unique, but accessible to everyone”, sotheby’s specialist Michael Bouhanna said in a statement.

Sotheby’s virtual gallery is a twin of its New Bond Street outpost, complete with five ground floor galleries – but instead of London’s tony Mayfair enclave, it’s in Decentraland’s premier arts center, the Voltaire Art District (map coordinates: 52, 83).

A virtual version of Sotheby’s avuncular London commissioner Hans Lomulder (who apparently is a real person who bears that title in real life?) Greets visitors at the gallery entrance, with top hat and all. The company’s commitment to authenticity becomes clear in the “Welcome” video, which shows a young visitor wearing a baseball cap, sweatshirt, black sweatpants and bright neon-sole sneakers that looks every inch like an “Art Bro” of the next generation.

The house’s Decentraland debut coincides with its very first curated NFT sale, “Natively Digital,” which features such early NFTs as Kevin McCoy’s Quantum (2014) alongside the work of tech-savvy artists who are more traditional items like Simon Denny and Justin. manufacture Aversano.

The auction, which runs online through June 10, culminates with the sale of Cryptopunk 7523, a rare alien cryptopunk (there are only nine) wearing an earring, knitted hat and medical mask. The current bid is $ 480,000; Players can see a live stream of the sale in the virtual gallery.

“A Sotheby’s-caliber organization joining the Art District heralds an exciting new chapter in the virtual world,” said Sam Hamilton, Community and Events Director, Decentraland.

Installation view of Sotheby’s curated NFT auction “Natively Digital” at Decentraland.

Sotheby’s is not the first art institution to establish itself in virtual space. The König Galerie in Berlin created an exhibition in Decentraland in March; Meanwhile, Beeples’ $ 69 million NFT buyers have set up their own display in another online universe called CryptoVoxels.

The initiative is another sign that Sotheby’s is firmly raising its flag in the NFT space. In April, Sotheby’s sale of the open edition “Cubes” by artist Pak reached a whopping 17 million US dollars. A month earlier, House CEO Charles Stewart told CNBC, “There’s a lot here that’s really exciting and we think it has staying power.”

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