Sotheby’s recently completed the sale of a poem titled “Cord,” inscribed with Ordinals, by Ana Maria Caballero, fetching a price of 0.28 Bitcoin or approximately $11,430. This transaction occurred during the Natively Digital auction, an online event dedicated to showcasing Bitcoin Ordinals inscriptions.
The Natively Digital collection had the primary goal of offering a thorough examination of Ordinals on Bitcoin that resemble NFTs, highlighting historically significant early inscriptions. In a delightful bonus for the purchaser of “Cord,” they will also receive a signed print of the poem.
First Poem to be Sold by Sotheby’s
Michael Bouhanna, Vice President and Head of Digital Art at Sotheby’s, took to Twitter to announce that the sale of “Cord” marked a historic milestone as the first individual poem ever sold by the renowned auction house, excluding manuscripts and books.
Ana Maria Caballero expressed the profound significance of the sale, viewing it as an opportunity to affirm the intrinsic value of written poetry. She stated, “It’s an incredible opportunity to make a statement that words and language and poetry have value on their own.”
Caballero emphasized that the sale of “Cord” was solely based on the potency of its language and text, without any additional visuals, sound, or immersive experiences attached to it.
Furthermore, “Cord” is set to be featured in Caballero’s upcoming book titled “Mammal.” The Natively Digital auction also featured a roster of notable artists, including FAR, XCPinata, Nullish, Rudxane, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Popoki, Shroomtoshi, Des Lucréce, and Claudia Hart.
It’s worth noting that one inscription linked to the “Quantum Cats” collection garnered an impressive price of over $250,000 during the auction.
Caballero Continues Push into the Digital Asset Industry
In 2021, Ana Maria Caballero, along with Kalen Iwamoto and Sasha Stiles, co-founded theVerseverse, a digital poetry and NFT gallery.
Previously, theVerseverse collaborated with the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles to curate an exhibition that merged Allen Ginsberg’s photographs with AI-generated poetry. This unique exhibition, titled “Muses & Self: Photographs by Allen Ginsberg,” garnered mixed reactions from the poetry community, as it aimed to capture the essence of the iconic Beat Generation figure.
Sotheby’s acknowledged Caballero’s work for its exploration of the interplay between biology and societal as well as cultural rituals. The auction house commended her talent in unveiling the truth behind the romanticized concept of motherhood and her ability to challenge the prevailing narrative that portrays sacrifice as a virtue.
Ana Maria Caballero revealed that her poem “Cord” is written in the poetic form known as a villanelle. This structured form comprises 19 lines, organized into five stanzas, with three lines each, and one stanza containing four lines. The villanelle incorporates two repeated rhymes and employs certain lines multiple times to create a distinctive rhythmic pattern.
Caballero expressed her appreciation for the value statement that this form of poetry represents, particularly for “Cord,” which delves into themes of motherhood, pregnancy, the body, and embodiment. She noted the significance of this in a field that often tends to be male-dominated and highlighted that the auction for the Ordinals poem “Cord” received over 40 bids.
Caballero’s writing career has earned her several prestigious awards, including the Beverly International and José Manuel Arango National Poetry Prizes.
In a broader context, Sotheby’s reported significant success in the emerging digital art sector in 2023, with digital art sales reaching “close to $35 million.” This marked the year as a standout period for the auction house in this rapidly evolving field.