Saudi Arabia Ministry of Culture and Sotheby’s and the Visual Arts Commission have partnered to launch an NFT digital arts forum in KSA. This will be the first of its kind in the Middle East. Charting the history of NFTs, from their inception. The program will bring together the pioneering artists, collectors and curators that are defining the space. 

Over the course of three days, attendees will have the opportunity to join a series of talks by experts in art, blockchain technology and NFTs. Sotheby’s will also showcase a selection of cutting-edge NFTs and host daily workshops as part of the Diriyah Biennale’s public program.

The forum will take place in the midst of Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, which runs until 11 March and showcases some of the world’s leading artists. Serving as a platform for global dialogue and exchange, the Biennale brings together Saudi and international artists in a celebration of contemporary culture, and is an accessible and engaging platform for all.ADVERTISING

Dina Amin, Chief Executive Officer, Visual Arts Commission at Ministry of Culture: “Digital Art provides emerging and established art practitioners and collectors with new ways to experience, collect and create with art peers around the world. As the Kingdom’s visual arts sector continues to rapidly flourish, we’re excited to partner with leading global experts such as Sotheby’s to bring this unique opportunity to engage with NFTs and digital art in Riyadh.”

Edward Gibbs, Chairman, Sotheby’s Middle East & India: “Sotheby’s is proud to present the first Digital Arts Forum in Saudi Arabia in partnership with the Ministry of Culture. This educational focus on NFTs is a natural next step in Sotheby’s strong history of supporting innovative cultural programmes and is testament to our longstanding commitment to Saudi Arabia echoing the Kingdom’s transformative Vision 2030.”

Sebastian Fahey, Managing Director of Sotheby’s EMEA: “The world of digital art is an ever-evolving space, and we are excited to be bringing the international NFT community to KSA – an opportunity for the next generation of collectors to explore the new NFT technology and the great innovations that are being made, all of which starts with education.”

Aya Al-Bakree, Chief Executive Officer, Diriyah Biennale Foundation: “We are delighted to be hosting this first of its kind project at the Diriyah Biennale as a partner of the Visual Arts Commission and Sotheby’s.  The Biennale is a hub of arts engagement and learning which inspires creative dialogue across cultures while developing the local ecosystem. This collaboration will, as part of our public program, lead to burgeoning local interest in NFTs and develop best practice in the field with access to leading voices.”

Program of Events

Friday 25 February: Introduction to the NFT and related artistic movements in the space.

Saturday 26 February: The new NFT ecosystem forming and how this new market is interacting with the traditional art market.

Sunday 27 February: Buying habits and trends and a look at the future for NFTs, with a particular focus on Saudi Arabia.

The showcase will be accompanied by daily workshops during the day focusing on how to explore the metaverse, set up a self-hosted wallet, purchasing and selling an NFT. Visitors can leave with a personalized POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol), a digital collectible token in the form of an NFT that records their attendance on the blockchain.

Sotheby’s & Digital Art

“NFTs are a great technological innovation that enable digital artists to sell and market their work in their native states. At their core, they allow us to expand our reach and welcome a new audience to the collecting community. This conference is the perfect platform to explore these innovations in Saudi Arabia, continuing this cultural conversation right on the doorsteps of collectors in the region.” stated Michael Bouhanna, Co-Head of Digital Art Sales, Sotheby’s

Over the course of the last year, Sotheby’s – and the art world at large – witnessed a meteoric rise in NFTs. Since its debut auction in April 2021, Sotheby’s sales in this category have achieved approximately $100 million for 100 NFTs, setting multiple benchmarks along the way, including records for a single CryptoPunk ($11.8 million) and single Bored Ape ($3.4 million).

In June 2021, Sotheby’s also launched a digital replica of its New Bond Street Headquarters in London at a prime location in Decentraland’s Voltaire Art District, with five spaces inside to exhibit both purely digital artworks or digital replicas of physical works from our sales. Most recently, Sandro Botticelli’s The Man of Sorrows transformed one of Sotheby’s virtual galleries into a chapel interior ahead of its auction as part of ‘Master Paintings’ at Sotheby’s New York.

Sotheby’s also became the first auction house, and one of the only organizations in the world, to create its own platform dedicated to NFTs, with the launch of Sotheby’s Metaverse. Dedicated Twitter and discord channels were established to coincide, providing a space for the NFT and crypto communities to engage. 

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