Sotheby’s will accept bitcoin for Banksy painting auction

Art lovers will soon be able to pay for Banksy in bitcoin and ether. 

Sotheby’s auction house announced Tuesday it will start accepting both cryptocurrencies as payment in its forthcoming auction of street artist Banksy’s painting “Love is in the Air.” The move is a first for a live art auction, signaling that the type of payment is becoming more widely accepted. 

The bidding is estimated between $3 million and $5 million and buyers will be able to pay with cryptocurrency via Coinbase Commerce or in USD. (Sotheby’s)

Sotheby’s will auction off the England-based artist’s iconic image “Love is in the Air,” a symbol of peaceful protest featuring an illustration of a man throwing a bouquet of flowers into the air, on May 12 in New York. The bidding is estimated between $3 million and $5 million and buyers will be able to pay with cryptocurrency via Coinbase Commerce or in U.S. dollars. 

“With the growing adoption of digital art and NFTs, along with our increased focus on digital innovation, we’ve seen an increasing appetite among collectors for more seamless payment options when doing business with Sotheby’s,” Stefan Pepe, Sotheby’s chief technology officer, said in a statement. 

“Leveraging the trusted exchange Coinbase is a natural progression and is in line with our dedication to enhancing our client buying experience and developing new ways to expand our client base by meeting them where they are.” 


The art world has been leaning into cryptocurrency in recent months, particularly with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a digital asset that can be verified using blockchain technology. A digital work by artist Mike Winkelmann, “Everydays – The first 5000 Days” sold for almost $70 at auction house Christie’s in March, the first major auction house to offer a digital work with an NFT.


Several mainstream companies have started taking Bitcoin. Starbucks, through a partnership with cryptocurrency payment app Bakkt, earlier this year started testing out a system to allow customers to pay for coffee and other items using Bitcoin to reload Starbucks cards through the coffee chain’s app. Bakkt will also partner with national companies like Best Buy, GolfNow, Choice Hotels and financial services company Fiserv in the near future, according to the developers.

Tesla will also accept bitcoin as a form of payment for its vehicles. The company’s CEO, Elon Musk, said in March that “Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as Bitcoin, not converted to fiat currency.”

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