Sothebys auctioneers in the prestigious New Bond Street
  • Sotheby's will allow bitcoin and ether payments in a Hong Kong diamond auction in July.
  • The rare 101-carat pear-shaped diamond is worth an estimated $10 million (R140 million) to $15 million (R210 million).
  • The luxury auction house has previously accepted crypto payments for Banksy artwork and NFTs.
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Sotheby's, one of the biggest luxury auction houses in the world, has said it will accept bitcoin and ether in payment for a rare 101-carat diamond with an estimated value of $10 million (R140 million) to $15 million (R210 million) when it is auctioned next month.

The pear-shaped diamond, named "The Key 10138", weighs 101.38 carats, has been classified as flawless and highly chemically pure, making it extremely rare, Sotheby's said. It is set to be sold in Hong Kong on July 9.

The auction house said it will accept bids in bitcoin and ether for the diamond, and it will take offers at the live sale or ahead of it.

"The Key 10138 is the first important diamond in the world to be auctioned with cryptocurrency as an accepted method of payment. It was named to symbolise the unlocking of a new era in commerce and technology, and thus is a key to history," Sotheby's said in auction details posted online.

The company has previously been open to cryptocurrency as payment, in the sale of a Banksy artwork in May and in the auction of a "CryptoPunk" non-fungible token, or NFT, earlier in June. One of a series of CryptoPunk characters, the "Covid Alien" sold for $11.8 million (R165 million).

Cryptocurrencies have emerged as a factor in auction sales this year after crypto-hype exploded in the last 18 months. Items so far have mostly been limited to artwork or digital collectibles like NFTs, and the auction of a diamond marks a milestone for acceptance of digital currencies. Sotheby's itself described the sale as "a significant moment in the evolution of the market" in a tweet on Monday.

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