Sotheby's CryptoPunk Auction of 104 NFTs Called Off After Seller Pulls Out Last Moment

The withdrawal notification came around 23 minutes after bidding was set to begin in the crowded auction room.

Sotheby's CryptoPunk Auction of 104 NFTs Called Off After Seller Pulls Out Last Moment

Photo Credit: Reuters

The anonymous CryptoPunks seller pulled out at the last minute

  • The auction would have been the largest NFT auction to date
  • 104 CryptoPunks that were supposed to be auctioned off
  • The Punk It! collection was originally bought in a single transaction

A Sotheby's auction of 104 CryptoPunks Ethereum NFTs, valued at up to $30 million (roughly Rs. 225 crore) which was scheduled for Wednesday evening was cancelled after the seller decided to pull out and hold on to the digital assets instead. The auction which could have been the largest NFT auction ever was called off roughly 23 minutes after bidding was scheduled to begin. The lot of 104 CryptoPunks NFTs, titled "Punk It!", was originally acquired together in a single transaction by an anonymous collector who goes by the username “0x650d” on Twitter.

Following Sotheby's confirmation of the cancelled auction on Twitter, the pseudonymous consignor of the auction tweeted, "nvm, decided to hodl”. The collector then posted a meme implying that they were "taking punks mainstream by rugging Sothebys“. While the phrase "rug pull" typically means a crypto scam where a team pumps their project's token before disappearing with the funds, in this case, no funds were lost.

Michael Bouhanna, co-head of digital art at Sotheby's, had earlier described the sale as a “first-of-its kind” due to its focus on CryptoPunks in the auction house's February 8 announcement.

“CryptoPunks are the original PFP [profile picture] series that created the template for other NFT projects that have followed, and which helped propel NFTs to the global stage as one of the most recognisable visual styles that have become synonymous with the digital art movement,” Bouhanna had said in a statement to Blockworks.

“I think we will continue to see growth of new collectors at Sotheby's who come to us via our NFT sales, as well as more art collectors more familiar with contemporary and modern art exploring NFTs as they continue to become more prominent in pop culture,” Bouhanna had said.

In fact, the "Punk It!" sale, which Sotheby's had been marketing as recently as Wednesday, was billed as "the first dedicated live evening auction for NFTs”.

While this would have been the first auction dedicated to NFTs, Sotheby's has sold digital artworks in the past alongside other items. It sold a reported $100 million (roughly Rs. 755 crore) in NFTs in 2021, with a September sale of 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs.

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Further reading: Cryptocurrency, CryptoPunks, NFT, Sothebys
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