Sotheby's diamond auction marks bitcoin milestone

Sotheby's announced on Monday that a rare pear-shaped diamond that is expected to fetch up to $15 million can be bought at auction next month using cryptocurrencies.

Sotheby's said it would be the first time a diamond of such size has been offered for public purchase with cryptocurrency, adding that no other physical object of such high value has been available for sale with the digital asset.

The 101.38-carat diamond, dubbed The Key 10138, is one of just ten diamonds of more than 100 carats ever to come to auction, only two of which were pear-shaped.

Sotheby's said the name of the flawless diamond is intended to reflect the integral role that keys occupy in the world of cryptocurrencies.

It carries a pre-sale estimate of $10 million - $15 million and will be sold on July 9 in Hong Kong. Bitcoin or ether - as well as traditional money - will be accepted as payment.

SOTHEBY'S NEW YORK HEAD OF JEWELRY DEPARTMENT QUIG BRUNING: "It's our opinion that with cryptocurrency you are able to have new clients who maybe had not previously been looking at auctions for objects, works of art, diamonds, coming to us and being potential purchasers for this stone."

Cryptocurrencies have had a volatile year, with explosive growth and major tumbles. Regulators and policymakers all over the world have warned about the emerging asset's volatility, and that Bitcoin facilitates money laundering and other illicit uses.

But, regardless, crypto has seen broader adoption.

El Salvador this month became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. And, in the United States, the National Republican Congressional Committee last week said it will accept donations in cryptocurrency.

Sotheby's in May sold a Banksy for $12.9 million in cryptocurrency, the first instance of a work of physical art sold by a major auction house that was bought with the decentralized currency.

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