Sotheby’s to Accept BTC, ETH or USDC in Auction of Rare Black Diamond Called ‘The Enigma’

The auction house sold a diamond for $12.3 million in cryptocurrency last July. Now Sotheby’s is doubling down on its outreach to the crypto nouveau riche.

Jan 17, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Jan 18, 2022 at 3:21 p.m. UTC

Tanzeel Akhtar is a reporter based in London,UK.

Sotheby’s, the 277-year-old British auction house, said it will be accepting bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH) and the stablecoin USDC for the sale of a rare 555.55-carat diamond dubbed “The Enigma.”

Sotheby’s said the decision to sell the black diamond with crypto as a payment option is due to the success of an earlier auction it held in July. Diamond collectors were stunned when an anonymous buyer purchased a rare 101.38-carat diamond known as “The Key 10138” for $12.3 million in cryptocurrency during a single-lot sale in Hong Kong.

“This present sale is a continuation of our efforts to strive to lead the market given the strong cryptocurrency community,” Nikita Binani, Sotheby’s jewelry specialist and head of sales in London, told CoinDesk. “I would hope that we’re able to attract them towards this diamond.”

The Enigma is on tour and being displayed in Dubai, Los Angeles and London. If the diamond is purchased with crypto, the transaction will be processed by Coinbase Commerce, Sotheby’s said.

“To have a natural-faceted black diamond of this size is an extremely rare occurrence and its origins are shrouded in mystery,” Sotheby’s wrote in a press release. “[It’s] thought to have been created either from a meteoric impact or having actually emerged from a diamond-bearing asteroid that collided with Earth.”

Serving the crypto riche

It seems Sotheby’s has now identified a new demographic and is targeting the crypto nouveau riche with the sale of rare diamonds. Though BTC and ETH were supported for the previous diamond auction, USDC is a new addition.

Currently, the Pink Star holds the record for the most expensive diamond ever sold, fetching an eye-popping $71 million at a Sotheby’s auction in April 2017. Other notable sales include the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue sold for $50.6 million in a Christie's auction in May 2016. In 2020, a 14.83-carat diamond was sold by Sotheby's for $26.6 million.

The Enigma will be auctioned in a single-lot online sale from Feb. 3–9.

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Tanzeel Akhtar is a reporter based in London,UK.

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Tanzeel Akhtar is a reporter based in London,UK.

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