Sotheby’s organizes a digital arts forum in Saudi Arabia in partnership with the Visual Arts Commission of the Ministry of Culture

Edward Gibbs, Chairman, Sotheby’s Middle East and 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 NFT is a natural next step in Sotheby’s strong history of supporting innovative cultural programs and demonstrates our long-standing 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-changing space, and we are thrilled to bring the international NFT community to Saudi Arabia – an opportunity for the next generation of collectors to explore new NFT technology and the great innovations that are made, it all starts with education.

Aya Al-Bakree, Managing Director, Diriyah Biennale Foundation: “We are delighted to welcome this first project of its kind to the Diriyah Biennale as a partner of the Visual Arts Commission and Sotheby’s. Jhe Biennale is a hub of arts engagement and learning that inspires creative dialogue across cultures while nurturing the local ecosystem. This collaboration, as part of our public program, will lead to growing local interest in NFTs and develop best practices in the field with access to leading voices.

Events program

Friday, February 25: Introduction to NFT and associated art movements in space.

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

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

The showcase will be accompanied by daily workshops during the day focused on how to explore the metaverse, set up a self-hosted wallet, buy and sell an NFT.

Visitors can walk away with a personalized POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol), a collectible digital token in the form of an NFT that registers their presence on the blockchain.

Images of NFT’s work and biographies of the panelists can be found here.

The discussions will be streamed live here.

The forum will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day (excluding opening day, Friday 25, when it will open at 5 p.m.).

Sotheby’s & Digital Art

“NFTs are a great technological innovation that allows digital artists to sell and market their work in their home country. Basically, they allow us to expand our reach and welcome a new audience into the collecting community. This conference is the perfect platform to explore these innovations in Saudi Arabia, continuing this cultural conversation at the doorstep of collectors in the region.

Michael Bouhanna, Co-Head of Digital Art Sales, Sotheby’s

Over the past year, Sotheby’s – and the art world in general – has witnessed a meteoric rise in NFTs. Since its first auction in April 2021, Sotheby’s sales in this category have reached approximately $100 million for 100 NFTs, setting several benchmarks along the way, including records for a single CryptoPunk (11.8 million dollars) and a single Bored Ape ($3.4 million).

In June 2021, Sotheby’s also launched a digital replica of its New Bond Street headquarters in London in a prime location in Decentraland’s Voltaire Art District, with five spaces inside to display both purely digital or digital replicas of physical works from our sales. More recently, Sandro Botticelli The Man of Sorrows has 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 few in the world, to create its own platform dedicated to NFTs, with the launch of Sotheby’s Metaverse. Dedicated Twitter and discord channels have been created to coincide, providing space for the NFT and crypto communities to engage.

Beginner’s Guide to NFTs

An NFT can be thought of as a certificate that only exists once, that is unique, immutable and non-interchangeable. When a collector purchases an NFT, they are buying a token (or certificate) and therefore the singular digital artwork or photograph linked to it. The purchase of the NFT is recorded on the blockchain (a decentralized database) and provides a permanent record of that purchase and proof of ownership. Payment is usually made in cryptocurrency, which Sotheby’s accepts on designated lots.

The opening hours of the exhibition are from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the remaining days.

For more information on speakers and artists, and to register, go to:


For media inquiries, please contact:
Melica Khansari
Senior Press Officer, Sotheby’s
[email protected]

© Press release 2022

John C. Dent