Sotheby’s to accept crypto as payment for rare diamond auction

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Pear-Shaped Diamond
Representational image

One of the largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles in the world, Sotheby’s will be accepting bitcoin and ethereum as payment for a rare pear-shaped diamond of 101.38 carats with flawless clarity and D-color. 

The gem is estimated to fetch up to $15 million at auction. It’s the first time cryptocurrency will be accepted as payment in a public auction of a diamond weighing more than 100 carats. In addition, no other physical object with such high value has ever been publicly offered for purchase with digital assets.

The 101.38-carat diamond, dubbed ‘The Key 10138’, is one of just ten diamonds of more than 100 carats ever to come to auction, only two of which were pear-shaped. Sotheby’s said the name of the flawless diamond is intended to reflect the integral role that keys occupy in the world of cryptocurrencies.

It carries a pre-sale estimate of $10 million – $15 million and will be sold on July 9 in Hong Kong. However, Sotheby’s is again using its hybrid online and live bidding process. Online bidding will open on June 25 culminating with the live sale. Bitcoin or ether, as well as traditional money, will be accepted as payment. 

Sotheby’s New York head of Jewelry Department, Quig Bruning, stated that “It’s our opinion that with cryptocurrency you are able to have new clients who maybe had not previously been looking at auctions for objects, works of art, diamonds, coming to us and being potential purchasers for this stone.”

Cryptocurrencies have had a volatile year, with explosive growth and major tumbles. Regulators and policymakers all over the world have warned about the emerging asset’s volatility, and that Bitcoin facilitates money laundering and other illicit uses. 

But, regardless, crypto has seen broader adoption. El Salvador this month became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. And, in the US, the National Republican Congressional Committee last week said it will accept donations in cryptocurrency.

Sotheby’s in May sold a Banksy for $12.9 million in cryptocurrency, the first instance of a work of physical art sold by a major auction house that was bought with the decentralized currency.

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