Sotheby’s will allow people to trade their crypto for an ‘intrinsically worthless’ rock

Luxury auction house Sotheby’s will accept bids in crypto for a massive diamond scheduled to be auctioned in Hong Kong next month.

According to a Monday Reuters report, Sotheby’s will offer a 101.38-carat pear-shaped diamond for bids in crypto and fiat starting on July 9. Buyers are expected to bid up $118 million HKD — roughly $15 million — for the stone. This amounts to more than 454 Bitcoin (BTC) at the time of publication at a price of $32,974. Sotheby’s has also accepted Ether (ETH) in previous auctions.

The auction house seems to be marketing to crypto users in the diamond listing. Patti Wong, chairperson of Sotheby's Asia, referred to the stones as “the most ancient and emblematic denominator of value.” Sotheby’s has also named the listing “The Key 10138,” purportedly in reference to the private keys used in crypto.

Though cryptocurrencies have had a volatile 2021 — the price of Bitcoin has fallen more than 5% in the last 24 hours after moving above $40,000 last week — some may question the logic in exchanging an asset with a market capitalization of more than $600 billion for a diamond. Though many people still purchase the rocks for jewelry and engagement rings, their usefulness as a store of value is arguably worse than that of BTC.

Nicky Oppenheimer, the former chairperson of the De Beers diamond corporation, once said “diamonds are intrinsically worthless.” The company largely maintained a monopoly on mining the stones for some time and seemingly restricted the world’s supply, driving up the price. Diamonds are apparently neither “rare” nor “forever” — they can actually delay over time, often faster than other stones. This brings new meaning to the “diamond hands” emoji popular among many crypto users, symbolizing someone HODLing an asset.

Related: Sotheby's will auction World Wide Web source code as NFT

However, users have bid for similarly high-priced items at Sotheby’s this year as the company announced it would accept BTC and ETH. This month the auction house’s London salesroom sold a CryptoPunk for $11.8 million. Sotheby’s also announced it would be putting up a nonfungible token with the World Wide Web source code for bids starting on June 23.

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