May 4, 2023

Sotheby’s Has Launched a Secondary Marketplace for NFTs, Allowing Artists to Sell Digital Works Directly to Collectors

The platform, part of the auction house's ongoing bid to corner the blue-chip NFT market, kicks off with works from 13 high-profile artists.

Sotheby’s has added a secondary marketplace to its Web3-focused venture Sotheby’s Metaverse.

The auction house has aggressively courted the NFT space since early 2021, positioning itself as the go-to place to sell and collect blue-chip digital work. Sotheby’s has hosted landmark NFT sales of solo artists, such as Pak; curated group shows, most recently a survey of contemporary glitch art; and flogged collections, including the upcoming sale of NFTs from the bankrupt hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.

And it’s working. To date, Sotheby’s has generated north of $100 million in NFT sales.

The latest move from is a play to compete with other secondary marketplaces and gain further Web3 credit with collectors and artists alike. The sales system is fully on-chain, allowing users to buy instantly in Ethereum or Polygon Matic with infrastructure powered by Mojito, a Web3 platform Sotheby’s backed in 2021.

The platform is artist-centric. Every few months, Sotheby’s will rotate in a crop of artists, whose background, technique, and significance will be lavishly explained in typical auction house fashion. Users will have access to the full portfolio of works made by an artist across other NFT marketplaces. It’s an aggregator of sorts, allowing holders of work by the selected artists to add their NFTs to the platform without consulting Sotheby’s. It’s peer-to-peer, but with Sotheby’s setting the topics of conversation. The auction house will charge a 2.5 percent seller fee.

The Sotheby’s marketplace is also notable for its stance on royalties. As the number of NFT marketplaces proliferated and the crypto bear market lumbered on, a race to the bottom ensued with the likes of Magic Eden and LooksRare moving to royalty-optional models. Some removed them entirely. Guaranteed artist royalties was the great (false) promise of NFTs and Sotheby’s pledge to automatically pay artists according to their on-chain royalty rate will make it an attractive platform for artists.

Sotheby’s has launched its secondary marketplace with 13 of the highest profile creators in the digital art space. This includes A.I. art stars Claire Silver, Sofia Crespo, and Refik Anadol, generative artists Tyler Hobbs and Pindar van Arman, and leading digital creators Hackatao, IX Shells, and XCOPY.

“A fully on-chain peer-to-peer market is an important step forward in our evolution within the digital art and collectible space,” Michael Bouhanna, Sotheby’s Head of NFTs said in a statement. “To commemorate this event by opening our secondary market to a carefully selected group of artists, many of whom have been at the forefront of the movement and brought digital art to worldwide attention, further emphasizes Sotheby’s commitment to the NFT community.”

The next step will come in June with Sotheby’s Metaverse creating a digital gallery of works on the secondary market alongside digital art collector Cozomo De’ Medici.

Richard Whiddington

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