On Tuesday, Justin Sun, the Hong Kong-based CEO of the cryptocurrency platform Tron, said that he purchased Alberto Giacometti’s Le Nez (1947) for $78.4 million during Sotheby’s sale of the Macklowe collection in New York, which saw 35 lots bring in a staggering $676 million.
The Giacometti sculpture features a figure with an elongated nose that is suspended from a wire in an open steel cage. It had been held by the Macklowes for nearly 3 decades before hitting the auction block yesterday. Bidding on the phone with a representative from the house’s Hong Kong chairman’s office, Yonnie Fu, Sun won the work against just one other bidder on the phone with David Schrader, Sotheby’s head of private sales. Coming to sale with an irrevocable bid, it hammered at $67 million, below its high estimate of $70 million.
In March, Sun revealed a new venture that could have major implications for the art world: an NFT investment fund focused on acquisitions of blue-chip art. He announced the fund after purchasing works by Picasso and Warhol for a collected $22 million at auction, pledging them as the first pieces of art to be digitally registered on the blockchain via the new fund, titled JUST NFT, in a process known as tokenization.
Sun is on art-buying spree, though it appears he had his eyes on another top lot at one point. Back in March, he was the underbidder on the record-breaking $69 million NFT by cult digital artist Beeple.
His establishment of the fund and his subsequent multi-million dollar art acquisitions are part of a larger effort to capitalize on the recent growth of the NFT market. It’s unclear if the Giacometti will be included as part of the new fund. Representatives from Sotheby’s and Tron did not immediately respond to ARTnews‘s requests for comment.
Sun is not the only young crypto mogul to emerge as a buyer in this month’s marquee auction sales in New York. Last week, Swiss venture capitalist Ryan Zurrer purchased Beeple’s Humane (One) for $25 million during a Christie’s evening sale.