This is the first time that a major auction house has accepted virtual currency as a means of payment for a physical work of art.
The famous auction house Sotheby's on May 4 said it would allow customers to pay in Bitcoin and Ether in an auction of artist Banksy's "Love is in The Air" painting.

According to Sotheby's, based in the US, this is the first time that a major auction house has accepted virtual money as a means of payment for a physical work of art. The auction winner can also pay in USD.

"What better way to present virtual currency than an iconic piece of Banksy," Charles Stewart, CEO of Sotheby's, told CNBC.

With the new means of payment, Sotheby's will partner with the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US Coinbase. Last month, the auction house also sold NFT (irreplaceable string of codes) created by artist Pak.

Banksy's painting "Love is in The Air" is one of the most famous works of the famous English street artist. The auction is scheduled to take place on May 12 with prices starting from $3-5 million.

"Maybe the winner of this painting will pay in dollars, not cryptocurrency, but I think to us, creating the ability to pay with cryptocurrency is interesting," said Stewart. "There's obviously a lot of audience interested in the NFT's aesthetics and capabilities there. So why not expand into the physical art world? It will be very interesting."

Previously, in 3 days of selling Pak's NFTs, Sotheby's attracted more than 3,000 people to bid. Ultimately, this entire NFT collection sold for $16.8 million.

In March, Christie's became the first auction house to sell NFT - a digital asset based on a blockchain. An NFT by artist Beeple has been sold for nearly $70 million. Christie's then also accepted Ether as a means of payment.

The question is if the auction winner pays in Bitcoin or Ether, will Sotheby's keep the virtual money or will it be converted to USD instantly. Answering this question, Mr. Stewart said Sotheby's has agreed with the owner of the painting that they will decide this.

With the announcement dated May 4, Sotheby's, founded and in 1744, became the latest major company to accept virtual currency. Earlier this year, card payment firm Mastercard said it would start bringing some of the virtual currency into its system. After that, the Wall Street banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs simultaneously prepared to provide crypto asset management services to their customers.

Several other companies like Tesla and Square have both included Bitcoin on their balance sheets. Tesla has also started allowing customers to buy electric cars with Bitcoin.

According to Coinmarketcap.com, Bitcoin is trading at $54,800 at 8:30 a.m. on May 5, up nearly 90 percent from the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, Ether stands at $3,360, up more than 360% from the beginning of the year.

Bitcoin is currently the largest virtual currency in the world with a market cap of over $1 trillion, followed by Ether with a market cap of nearly $400 billion.

This is the first time that a major auction house has accepted virtual currency as a means of payment for a physical work of art.
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