Serwah Attafuah’s [em]Creation of My Metaverse (Between this World and the Next)[/em] alongside [em]Venus with Cupid stealing honey, by a follower of Lucas Cranach the Elder,[/em] early 17th Century at Sotheby's on June 4, 2021 in London.
Tristan Fewings—Sotheby's/Getty Images

The 278-year-old auction house sold a record $7.3 billion worth of art in 2021, thanks in part to its willingness to plunge into the hot nonfungible token (NFT) business. Most of Sotheby’s sales still involve more familiar forms of art, like works by Botticelli or Banksy, but $100 million in NFTs were sold at Sotheby’s auctions last year, from cartoon monkeys known as Bored Apes to the source code of the World Wide Web. While Christie’s and other auction houses also showed interest in this new tech, Sotheby’s became the first major auction house to open a virtual gallery in the metaverse, helping it stand out from rivals as a technological revolution upends centuries-old norms of bidding and selling.

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