Sotheby’s enters the NFT game with Pak collaboration

The blockchain and anonymous artists are a match made in heaven.

The NFT craze is becoming more mainstream with each passing day. The latest entry into the fray: Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest (and oldest) auction companies. Sotheby’s will be selling its first NFT art piece, created by anonymous artist Pak, beginning next month.

Not much is known about Pak, though the artist has amassed a pretty massive following across social media. Pak declined to share any details about who they are, a Sotheby’s spokesperson said, though the artist did ask to be referred to with they/them pronouns. It’s unclear whether Pak is one person or a collective.

Sotheby’s will work with Pak to sell their one-of-a-kind NFT artwork through the company’s digital auction house, but the centuries-old company isn’t all-in on blockchain technology just yet. Cryptocurrency, including the increasingly popular bitcoin, will not be accepted as payment for Pak’s NFT. Cryptocurrency acceptance aside, Sotheby’s decision to auction off an NFT is a sign blockchain art isn’t just a passing trend.

Digital anonymity — Not much is known about the artwork Pak will be creating for Sotheby’s. Pak didn’t want to share any details when prompted by Decrypt. Their reply was particularly cryptic: “It’s more exciting when everyone is excited about it, without knowing much, and when they learn it will be because this particular drop is different.”

The relative anonymity of digital art is one of its biggest draws for artists who would prefer their work be known without a face behind it. The quick rise of NFT technology — which creates digital scarcity — allows anonymous artists to sell their work online while ensuring the authenticity of that work for buyers.

Everyone wants in — To call NFT art a “trend” would be an understatement at this point. Mainstream acceptance of the digital art technology has skyrocketed in the last few weeks, especially amongst the tech elite. Christie’s sold its first NFT last week, a digital collage by artist Beeple, for an astounding $69.3 million.

So yeah, you could say NFTs are pretty big. Companies allowing the average person to post their NFTs for sale have bloomed this year, too, and quite a few musicians have adopted the technology for limited-edition digital album sales. Elon Musk wants in, too, and Azealia Banks sold her sex tape as an NFT.

Sotheby’s says Pak will sell a single copy (known as a “one-of-one” piece) of a new work through the auction house, but Sotheby’s is also leaving open the option of selling open editions of other works by Pak, allowing multiple customers to buy the same piece.

The future of NFTs is still uncertain — but, based on their acceptance by some of the world’s most-respected art sellers, they’ll be around for a while yet.