• Christie’s to sell some of the earliest NFTs – and only ETH

  • Christie’s will further enter the digital art sales arena by listing a set of 31 Curio Cards and several other notable non-interchangeable token (NFT) items in a live auction on October 1.

    The 254-year-old auction house made history in March when it auctioned off a Beeple NFT for $69 million. Christie’s Asia is now accepting bids for several rare CryptoPunks and Bored Ape NFTs, as buyer appetite for NFTs has been approaching feverish levels recently.

    Launched in May 2017, Curio Cards is often regarded as the first digital art collection on the Ether blockchain, predating both CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties. The set of cards depicts images ranging from mundane objects (#1 Apple) to re-imagined corporate logos (#15 DigitalCash) to complex black and white geometric shapes (#26 Education).

    “As far as art projects on Ether, the true full set of Curio Cards is one of the few Holy Grails,” said Noah Davis, Head of Digital Art at Christie’s.” This is the first project of its kind, predating even Punks.”

    The set of 31 numbered cards – including the misprinted number 17b – is estimated to fetch between 250 and 350 ETH, or between $870,000 and $1.3 million based on current Ether prices.

    The rarest card in the lot is card number 26.

    “There are only 111 of them in total. Five have been lost,” Curio Cards co-founder Travis Uhrig told us. That puts the number of viable full sets at 106 – one of which will be up for grabs at Christie’s.

    As for the misprinted cards, Uhrig chalked it up to a technical error.

    “Cards 17, 18 and 19 were all initially misprinted, but there was a mistake that made cards 18 and 19 unsellable,” Uhrig explained.” Back in 2017, no one cared that you had test code on Ether. We just redeployed all three after we fixed [the bug]. People eventually found [card #17b] because it lived on the blockchain. The market has definitely spoken, and people think it’s essential to the full suite of products.”

    The October 1 sale also marks the first time that Christie’s live bidding will be denominated in cryptocurrency rather than the usual local currency. Bidding must be in ETH, signaling a new milestone as Christie’s goes down the rabbit hole of cryptocurrency.

    “I’ve been bidding at auctions on behalf of clients for nearly a decade,” said Davis, Christie’s head of digital art.” I’ve bid in dollars, pounds and euros – always in fiat currency. It’s incredible to think I’ll hear an auctioneer call out my bid in ETH. It’s impossible.”

    In addition to the set of vintage cards, the auction will feature a second lot, three complete sets of 31 NFTs from the curated series of Art Blocks, a blockchain startup that helps artists create algorithmically generated art, hand-picked versions of this popular series.

    The Art Blocks Curated pieces currently have a reserve price of 1.7 ETH, or about $5,900, on OpenSea, the NFT marketplace.

    “Art Blocks and the artists involved are very humbled to receive this level of recognition,” Erick Calderon, Art Blocks’ co-founder and CEO, told us.

    The first NFT works will be part of Christie’s broader “POST-WAR TO PRESENT” live auction in New York, which will also feature more traditional artists and works.

    Davis confirmed to us that as part of the same auction, Christie’s will also list five original graffiti from entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeFriends NFT series.

    Just five days later, Christie’s will auction its first NFT photos as part of its PHOTOGRAPHS series on October 6. The sale will include NFT Twin Flames No. 83, which will accompany all 100 physical photographs from the series.

    “This could be a bridge between traditional art collectors and new crypto art collectors,” said Justin Aversano, the photographer behind the Twin Flames project, which is estimated to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 at auction.

    The international auction house appears to be sprinkling NFT into its traditional live auctions as part of a cross-pollination marketing strategy. Christie’s auction will mix digital and real-life art, which will introduce traditional art collectors to NFTs and attract cryptocurrency-native collectors who were not previously clients of the auction house.

    “It’s amazing to see so many incredible artists succeeding in the NFT space; it’s always been a dream of ours,” said Urig, co-founder of Curio Cards.

    “In 2017, Curio Cards focused on explaining what NFTs are and why they’re valuable. Now it’s become this well-known ecosystem of artists showing at major auction houses like Christie’s.”

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