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Crypto-crazed Sotheby's launches first virtual gallery in digital metaverse Decentraland

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Sotheby's has launched a new location in 2021's hottest art trade hub: the NFT metaverse. Located in Decentraland, a decentralised virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain, the auction house has created a digital replica of its London headquarters on New Bond Street. The virtual gallery will have five ground floor spaces to show digital art, as well as a digital avatar of its London commissionair Hans Lomulder to greet visitors at the door.

“We see spaces like Decentraland as the next frontier for digital art where artists, collectors and viewers alike can engage with one another from anywhere in the world and showcase art that is fundamentally scarce and unique, but accessible to anyone for viewing,” says Michael Bouhanna, head of sales at Sotheby’s.

Decentraland was opened to the public in February 2020. In this virtual world, users purchase plots of land that they can later navigate, build upon and monetise. Sotheby's virtual gallery is located in Decentraland’s Voltaire Art District and can be found using map coordinates 52,83.

The launch comes midway through Sotheby's first "curated NFT sale", which runs until 10 June. It is co-organised by NFT artist Robert Alice, whose physical 2019 painting Block 21 (42.36433° N, -71.26189° E) became the first NFT to be auctioned by a major house when it sold at Christie's in October 2020. The sale will offer NFTs by 27 artists, including Quantum by Kevin McCoy, a geometric animation which Sotheby's claims is the "first known NFT", created in May 2014. At time of publication the lot's current bid is at $220,000.

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