Sotheby's enters the NFT metaverse with... some random squiggly lines

The famed auction house is all-in on NFTs, now.

Sotheby’s today took its first real steps into the metaverse with a project called “Chromie Squiggles.” The project is, as the name implies, about a bunch of squiggly lines. Or, as Sotheby’s puts it, “a kaleidoscopic serpent existing in a digitalized form.”

If you’re still confused about what, exactly, Chromie Squiggles is, let’s try these descriptions — also from Sotheby’s — on for size:

  • a psychedelically writhing motif
  • all the iconic symbolism of any major pop art motif
  • the perfect suggestion of the artist’s hand as they craft their code

What do you mean you still don’t understand? Okay, let’s try a photo:

A Chromie Squiggle example.Sotheby's

Get it now? Chromie Squiggles is Sotheby’s first generative NFT project. It’s been brought to life by Snowfro, a Houston-based artist whose career spans decades and many mediums. The project is hosted on Art Blocks, a platform that allows generative art to be created right on the Ethereum blockchain.

Sotheby’s has been selling NFTs for the better part of 2021, but Chromie Squiggles is its first large-scale in-house project. Sotheby’s is all-in on NFTs, now.

Random purchase — Sotheby’s is offering a limited run of ten Chromie Squiggles, each of which will not be completed until it’s purchased. That’s because a blockchain algorithm actually creates each piece once it’s been purchased.

Like other popular NFT projects, Chromie Squiggles starts out as a set of artistic variables, also known as “traits.” These traits cover aspects of the NFT like color spectrum, direction, and overall type. There are six types in total: normal, slinky, fuzzy, ribbed, bold, and pipe.

Each trait carries a specific rarity; when put together, those rarities determine how valuable any given Chromie Squiggles will ostensibly be. The catch is that, because the actual NFT isn’t created until you’ve purchased it, there’s no way of knowing how rare your Squiggles will be.

Legacy support — Only ten Squiggles are being auctioned off as part of the project. The highest bidder on December 13 at 2 p.m. ET will receive all ten random generations.

Sotheby’s first waded into the waters of the NFT market slowly, but the auction house is now fully bullish on the technology. Recent NFT auctions selling for many, many millions likely provided enough push for the company to buy into the idea in a more complete way.

Though NFTs are still polarizing in the art community, it’s difficult to argue against their general impact on digital art in 2021. Sotheby’s’ direct support of the NFT ecosystem is a sizable boon for the technology. And the famed auction house has plans for many more NFT projects in the future. Chrome Squiggles is only the beginning.