Sotheby's Pauses NFT Auction After Criticism of All-Male Artist Lineup

Sotheby's Pauses NFT Auction After Criticism of All-Male Artist Lineup

BYPaper MagazineApr 01, 2023

Sotheby's has pressed pause on its latest NFT auction following criticism of its all-male lineup.

Last week, the auction house was supposed to start its highly anticipated "Glitch-ism" sale, which was put together by its Natively Digital division to sell works from 17 prominent glitch artists from around the world, according to the Art Newspaper. But while the auction was initially scheduled to run from March 24 to 31, the sale was halted after two days after anonymous conceptual artist OONA began speaking out against the all-male lineup, as well as the way it exemplified the lack of female-identifying artists within the crypto art space, as well as the subsequent pay disparities.

"How is this Sothebys line up of glitch movement showcasing only male artists? When glitch has such a history of sexuality & gender how are you okay being curated in an all male show?," OONA wrote in a tweet that tagged Sotheby's NFT curator. Additionally, OONA's post also mentioned several artists participating in the sale including Patrick Amadon, who later went on to say that he would withdraw his work from the sale after seeing the tweet.

"While I believe it was a genuine oversight and the team means well, the lack of representation is a serious issue and we need to address this in our space," Amadon wrote. "Female-identifying artists have played a major role in the glitch movement."

Not only that, but artist Sabato Visconti revealed that other featured artists had been "advocating behind the scenes for Sotheby's to provide redress and threatening to follow suite and pull out as well," after hearing from women and nonbinary artists like Dawnia Darstone, who was allegedly asked by Sotheby's to offer analysis for the sale sans financial compensation.

As such, Sotheby's announced that the auction would be paused in order to “redress the imbalance in representation within the sale, and will restart with a more equitable and diverse group of artists at a later date.” While the auctioneers have yet to provide a new set of dates, as OONA pointed out in a press release, the issue "isn’t about having all-female shows or tokenism" but about "achieving real parity in pay and vision."

“For far too long, the link between financial worth and artistic merit has been inextricably tied to our cultural understanding of art,” OONA continued, prior to adding, "This It’s time for women and non-male artists to be given an equal platform to showcase their talents.”

Photo via Getty / Chesnot