The Sotheby’s NFT lawsuit demonstrates how difficult it is to regulate art as an asset class

Last week, a group of art investors launched a lawsuit against Sotheby’s – a renowned global art broker. This class-action case was filed last December 2022, citing the aforementioned broker was allegedly conspiring with a blockchain firm to drive up the cost of NFTs at of a 2021 auction. Moreover, stars such as Steph Curry Madonna are involved in the case, which raises an interesting point: That artwork is a form of art or simply an asset class

This case which has sparked discourse runs deep. Sean Masson, a NY-based lawyer who is representing the plaintiffs, explained that the view formed by these anonymous NFT buyers is that much of these investments should be looked at as pure financial assets, rather than pieces of artwork. Further, he has stated that Sotheby’s authority seemed to suggest validity given their presence to collectors regarding these digital images placed up for auction, entrapping many an investor.

When things went wrong and this investment prospect failed, who could be targeted for retribution? This leads to an even more complex question: Does the broker, in this case Sotheby’s, have the responsibility to guarantee painting appreciations? Certainly, they don’t think so as according to Vice President Derek Parsons, these allegations are baseless, pushing defendants to fight to prove they are.

This highlights an excruciatingly befuddling loop with the art world – given its general subjectivity, how can one precisely identify ‘bad’ art? Generally, with large amounts of money at play here and a price tag of almost $580 billion globally creating its own economy larger than many land masses, how your funds are managed is key. To demonstrate this etchingly, theaverage Bored Ape pieces were seen devaluing once their auction had passed. Thus, these anonymous NFT buyers were left with both hefty losses and a merely mediocre piece of art, further highlighting the importance of care taken whilst dealing with large amounts of hard-earned currency.

Robert Wilson author
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