NFT Granny

How to buy NFT Art at a traditional auction house?

The Art Blocks Auction on Sotheby’s in June 2021, gave generative Art new popularity. A traditional auction house sold a bundle of 9 incredible pieces by artists like Snowfro, MacTuiTui, Bryan Brinkman, ge1doot or Dmitri Cherniak for 81.900 USD.

ArtBlocks auction on Soetheby’s

Have you ever wondered how an NFT Art buy at a traditional auction house works? For example, whether you have to pay in cryptocurrency? Then you feel the same as our NFT Granny 😀

For this article, we were able to speak with the buyer of the Artblocks NFT at Sotheby’s and gain insights into an NFT Art purchase at a traditional auction house.

How did you first hear about the Art Blocks Auction with Sotheby’s?

The first time I heard of auction houses selling NFTs was on Twitter a few months back. I was also aware of the success of Beeple’s auction. So while I was excited about following the action, I didn’t plan to bid on it. I was checking my Twitter feed, and I remember seeing a tweet from Pranksy about bidding on the digital native collection, and this is when I decided to check the price.

Can you tell us more about the registration process at Sotheby’s?

It took less than 3 hours for me to check the Art Blocks lot’s price and win the bid. So some of the registration details are a bit fuzzy 🙂 I remember it being a very progressive flow. I registered with an email to be able to follow the action on their mobile app. Then when I decided to bid, I had to provide more information to verify my identity. I was nervous at first (the beauty of crypto is that you can stay anonymous), but the app is well done and easy to get verified for a bid.

Was it possible to pay in crypto or FIAT currencies like (USD, CHF) only?

You could pay in BTC, ETH or USD. My budget came from a previous discussion with my wife to use some of our cash to diversify our investments. So I decided to pay in USD. There was no point in using crypto to stay anonymous since I had to verify my identity to bid.

Was it the first NFT you have bought?

No. I had previously bought tens of NFT both using ETH and XTZ. This is definitively the most expensive I have bought so far. 

Has anyone helped you to set up a wallet for the NFTs?

I had multiple wallets already. But I wanted to set up a dedicated wallet for this NFT to maintain anonymity and lineage for the collection. In addition, I wanted a hardware wallet for extra security. Even with my technology background, I still had questions about how NFTs transfers are handled with hardware wallets. So I worked with the team Sotheby’s used for crypto technical support, and they were very responsive and helpful.

What was your experience/feeling during the auction and afterwards?

I think everybody at Sotheby’s was super helpful before and after the bid. Before the bid, I did ask for their estimation. One of the reasons I end up bidding is because their estimation was 100% aligned with my estimation. A few weeks before the auction, I tried to buy individual pieces of the collections on OpenSea. That gave a good sense of the floor price for Art Block pieces. 

The one thing that I did not like about the auction experience was the extra fees on top of my bid. This was my first bid in an auction house, it was a bit of a surprise, and after doing some research, it seems that there is a little bit of controversy in the art world about auction house fees. I understand they have to pay for their current infrastructure and make money out of their expertise. Still, I do wonder if the technology being NFTs and the rise of DeFi is not going to put pressure on their current business model.

Furthermore, they also sent an NFT token of appreciation, which was a grand gesture.

Are you planning to hold the artwork?

Yes. My initial time horizon for this investment is 10-20 years. After interacting with the community on Discord and talking to Snowfro during and after the mint episode #7 it was clear that I have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of this collection. And if I ever need to sell, I want to make sure this lands in good hands.

My main goal right now is to learn more about the generative art community. I use this collection as a platform to promote it.

Do you plan to enjoy the art pieces with a digital frame or printout?

I am on the market for the best digital frame to display in my office. It is just hard to decide between the current offerings (for example, Samsung Frame) and all the startups trying to address this need. I would be very happy if people recognize the art and ask questions in my next zoom meetings.

One of the artists reached out to me to offer a fine print version of their art. I cannot wait to figure out the logistics. I am planning to display it at my house.

Final Thoughts

The entry barrier to traditional auction houses is not that high as expected. Furthermore, their teams offer great support during the whole process. But, a negative point is the selection and fee model. The NFT art pieces in traditional auction houses are super selective. Whereas in online marketplaces like opensea, you will find a much more extensive selection.