Mike Steib, the chief executive of Artsy, said he welcomed Platform into the arena: “Anything we can do that makes buying art as accessible as buying cars, jewelry or luxury goods is great.”

Platform is staffed by a team of 10 young gallerists — in addition to his son, it includes Zwirner’s daughter, Marlene — who bring different backgrounds to the venture. Bettina Huang, for example, Platform’s general manager, has held leadership roles at e-commerce companies like Fab.com and the Amazon subsidiary Quidsi.

Silverman, who just opened a new space in San Francisco, said the two artists she will feature are Clare Rojas and Catherine Wagner. “I’m interested in experiments,” the dealer said of Platform — “who might come to the work who we don’t know.”

Lily Stockman, who shows with Moffett.

sold Jeff Koons’s “Balloon Venus Lespugue (Red) (2013-19)” for $8 million, and in the last 12 months has sold over $100 million worth of art online.

What particularly fueled the dealer’s interest in the venture, he said, was his experience with the gallery’s fund-raiser, “Artists for Biden,” in which more than $2.5 million worth of art by Koons, Kehinde Wiley and Carmen Herrera, among others, sold through a “buy now” option.

Dorian Grinspan, a New York City collector. “It’s exciting to have a place where you have a more curated showing of what’s around the market.”

(While the smaller galleries propose the artworks for Platform, the Zwirner specialists may weigh in.)

The mechanics of the site have been their own challenge. Zwirner Gallery is partnering with the fine-art shipping company Dietl International, using a custom-built system that provides shipping quotes at checkout.

a new $50 million gallery in Chelsea, which has been delayed by the pandemic.

“It creates a golden opportunity for me to think about what I really want,” he said. “I’m no longer as sure as I was four years ago.”

Zwirner said he also likes the idea of a business like Platform saving his gallery — and the smaller ones collaborating with him — the steep costs of multiple art fairs every year.

“We will never go back to the old way of working,” the dealer said. “We’ve encountered a much larger art world than we thought existed. If it proves to be a robust primary market, the sky’s the limit.”

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Turkey Fights for Return of a Work It Says Was Looted

The marble idol was carved as many as 6,000 years ago, a 9-inch-tall female figure with a sleek, abstract form, its head tilted slightly upward as if staring into the firmament.

By the 1960s the idol had been transported to the United States, where it was in the possession of the court tennis star and art collector Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife, Edith, and known as “The Guennol Stargazer.”

Christie’s listed the stargazer for sale in 2017, drawing the attention of the Turkish government, which asked for the auction to be halted.

The Turkish government then sued Christie’s, saying the idol had been looted. The government asked the court to find that it is the rightful owner of the idol and cited the 1906 Ottoman Decree, which asserts broad ownership of antiquities found in Turkey. But the auction proceeded and the idol fetched a price of $14.4 million, before the unidentified buyer backed away.

agreed to return a collection known as the Lydian Hoard, which included more than 200 gold, silver and bronze objects from the reign of King Croesus of Lydia, a kingdom in western Asia Minor that flourished in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.

And in 2012, the government of Turkey asked museums in Los Angeles, New York and Washington to turn over dozens of artifacts it said were looted from the country’s archaeological sites.

It is generally accepted that the item at issue in the lawsuit originated in Kulaksizlar, the home of the only workshop known to have produced the stargazers. The figures were so-called because of the angle at which a large head rests on a thin neck, Christie’s said in an online description, creating “the whimsical impression of the figure staring up at the heavens.”

When the Guennol Stargazer was first listed for auction, Christie’s said it was “considered to be one of the most impressive of its type known to exist,” adding that it had been on loan at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at various periods from 1966 to 2007.

The Turkish government said that one of its witnesses, Neil Brodie, a senior research fellow in the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, would provide “comprehensive scientific evidence” for his conclusion that the idol was almost certainly found in Turkey.

for part of the Lydian Hoard. (The museum’s former director, Thomas Hoving, once referred to Klejman as among his “favorite dealer-smugglers.”)

Christie’s and Steinhardt have maintained that the Turkish government cannot prove ownership of the idol under the 1906 decree because it has “no direct evidence of where or when the Stargazer Idol was found, excavated or exported: it has no witnesses to the excavation or export and no photographs.”

The defendants also have said that Turkey knew about the presence of the idol in New York as early as 1992 but did not act on that knowledge.

“Turkey’s 25-year delay in making its claim baited the trap for dealers, collectors and auction houses,” defense lawyers said in court papers. “And set them up for huge losses when Turkey claimed the Idol only after it came up for sale at a major auction house.”

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¿Por qué alguien pagó 560.000 dólares por una imagen de mi columna?

“A las personas de mi generación, que crecieron en la década de 1970, les encantará coleccionar libros de primera edición, novelas como el Ulises de James Joyce”, escribió en un correo electrónico. “Lo que las cripto y los NFT abrieron es la propiedad de los derechos para decir que uno posee tal cosa, ya sea tangible o intangible, en una forma que miles, si no es que millones, pueden ver y rastrear en tiempo real, en cualquier parte del mundo”.

André Allen Anjos, un artista de música electrónica de Portland, Oregón, que ofreció 5,69 etheres (cerca de 9200 dólares) por el NFT, me dijo en una entrevista telefónica que pujar por el token tal vez se podría considerar como un gesto simbólico de agradecimiento hacia mí y el Times de parte de la criptocomunidad por, sobre todo, tomarlos con la suficiente seriedad como para hacer un experimento con nuestra propia venta de tokens.

“Es como si una publicación convencional intentara interactuar con nosotros como comunidad de una manera real y sincera”, señaló. “Yo quería dar a entender que esto es fabuloso, que están planteando las preguntas correctas”.

Anjos mencionó que había crecido en la era de Napster, cuando los músicos se dieron cuenta de que internet podría destruir su modo de subsistencia al facilitar la reproducción de canciones de manera gratuita. Comentó que la tecnología de cadenas de bloques había cambiado eso al poder crear objetos coleccionables de edición limitada timbrados con el sello digital de su procedencia. Anjos mencionó que la idea de coleccionar los NFT no era tanto poseer las piezas en sí (la mayoría de las cuales pueden descargarse de manera gratuita de internet, pero sin las firmas criptográficas especiales), sino más bien demostrar confianza en este nuevo modelo de adquisición.

“No voy a llamarlo protesta, pero es una declaración”, afirmó. “Este es el criptomundo intentando probar que existimos; nos interesa revolucionar este modelo y estamos dispuestos a invertir nuestro dinero en eso”.

No todos los motivos de los postores eran tan nobles. Sterling Crispin, investigador de Apple que tiene otro trabajo como artista de NFT, mencionó que había ofrecido 4125 etheres (cerca de 6700 dólares) por mi token porque tenía en puerta una presentación virtual y esperaba que la puja atrajera algo de publicidad.

“Dije, bueno, estoy a punto de emitir un NFT para esta presentación en solitario”, comentó. “Valdría muchísimo la pena que aparecieran cuatro etheres en el Times”.

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Why Did Someone Pay $560,000 for a Picture of My Column?

$98,000.

$143,000.

$277,000.

After more than 30 bids, the auction ended at 12:32 p.m. Eastern time, with a winning bid of 350 Ether, or about $560,000. A few minutes later, after the auction platform had taken its cut, nearly $500,000 in cryptocurrency landed in my digital wallet. I was stunned. Congratulatory texts and media requests started pouring in. My colleagues joked about stiffing the charity and slipping off to the Cayman Islands. My editor said I shouldn’t expect a raise.

The whole ordeal was surreal, and it raised the question: Why would anyone spend the price of a high-end Lamborghini on a picture of my words? After all, the NFT was just a cryptographic signature linked to an image of a column that anyone could read on The Times’s website, albeit with a few bonus perks. (I also stipulated that I would feature the winner’s name and photo in a follow-up column, and Michael Barbaro, the host of “The Daily,” gamely agreed to throw in a voice message for the winner.)

The winner, whose handle on the auction site was @3fmusic, appeared to be a prominent NFT collector. The profile on the site was linked to a Twitter profile belonging to a Dubai-based music production company, and to an Instagram account identified as that of Farzin Fardin Fard, the company’s chief executive. The user’s NFT collection included a variety of other expensive digital works, including a $14,000 “emoji portrait” of the musician Billie Eilish and a $8,000 piece titled “Jumping Spider enjoying coffee in the morning.”

I reached out to @3fmusic to offer my congratulations on the purchase and to discuss the bid. They (it’s not clear if the winner is Mr. Fard or some other individual or multiple people) declined to be named — and, because of the pseudonymous nature of blockchain-based transactions, there’s no easy way for me to identify them beyond the information they volunteered — but they sent me a statement over Twitter direct message that read:

“We are already involved in art and media for a long time now,” the message read. “Our management team is always in cooperation with some highly knowledgeable and experienced art advisers who believe that we must grow with technological movements that help us to not only promote our business but also to support artists and the art market. Thus, we have proudly decided to dedicate sufficient funds and resources to invest in NFT as pioneers of this industry.”

They also gave me permission to include an image of their music studio’s logo in this column.

Jiannan Ouyang, an NFT collector who dropped out of the auction after a high bid of 290 Ether (about $469,000), told me that he had decided to bid on my NFT for both personal and professional reasons. He’s a former Facebook research scientist who is now a blockchain entrepreneur, and he’s married to a journalist.

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Auctions of Cars, Watches and Furniture Heat Up

Rich people who shopped too much used to be called collectors. Now they — and those belonging merely to the aspirational class — are all investors.

It’s not just that they’ve spent the last year splurging on stakes in untested, newly formed public companies that have yet to produce products, much less profits. It’s that during the pandemic, seemingly every luxury acquisition has become a so-called alternative asset class.

Rather than elbowing past each other for reservations at the latest restaurants from Marcus Samuelsson and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, or getting into bidding wars for apartments at 740 Park Avenue, they are one-upping each other in online auctions for jewelry, watches, furniture, sports cards, vintage cars, limited-edition Nikes and crypto art.

growing wealth inequality.

sold on the secondary market in 2020 for $30,000 are now going for upward of $50,000 on some resale sites. The Nautilus 5980, a rose gold chronograph sports watch from Patek Philippe that has a retail price of $85,000, can seldom be found on 47th Street for much less than $200,000.

One reason for surging prices, according to Benjamin Clymer, the editor of the watch site Hodinkee, is that “Switzerland shut down, so demand was there while the supply was dramatically reduced.”

had sold shortly before the pandemic through the auction site Bring a Trailer (or BaT, as it’s known) for $560,000 but Mr. Clymer figured it might be a buyer’s market. Perhaps he could get it for less.

He found a beauty from a dealership that hadn’t listed the price on its website. It was in mint condition. Mr. Clymer asked for a quote and nearly fainted upon hearing the answer: $1.2 million.

“I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ Less than a month later it was sold.”

By Thanksgiving, auction houses were sending out news releases almost daily touting their record-breaking sales.

sold in October 2020 for $23,750 through the Chicago auction house Wright. A Mesa coffee table by T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings, a British architect whose name is barely known outside of the furniture world, brought in $237,500 in December; the overall result of the sale was $2.5 million, roughly double what the house did at the same sale a year before.

In February, a digital artwork of Donald Trump facedown in the grass, covered in words like “loser,” sold for $6.6 million, a record for a nonfungible token, or NFT, so called because there’s no physical piece for the buyer to take possession of.

Fittingly, the image was paid for in Ethereum, a form of cryptocurrency that, among millennials, is almost as well known as bitcoin. Two weeks later, Christie’s sold another NFT by Beeple, this time for $69 million.

sold through PWCC Marketplace for $5.2 million. In March, Goldin Auctions, a sports collectible site, held its annual winter auction. “We grossed $45 million,” said Ken Goldin, the founder and C.E.O. “Last year, it was $4.7 million.”

One of Mr. Goldin’s repeat customers is Clement Kwan, the former president of Yoox Net-a-Porter and a founder of Beboe, an upscale line of cannabis vaporizers and edible pastilles that The New York Times has called “the Hermès of Marijuana.”

along with her sisters Dakota and Dresden Peters, owns what some believe is the most valuable sneaker collection in the world — had her biggest sale in five years of being in business: a pair of autographed 1985 Air Jordans that fetched $275,000.

In 2019, the sisters sold 572 pairs of sneakers, at prices that began at $500, Ariana Peters said in an interview. In 2020, they sold 879.

Ms. Peters actually sounded somewhat surprised talking about all this, perhaps because she and her sisters only got into the business because their father, a retired real estate developer named Douglas Roy Peters, bought so many pairs of sneakers they were running out of places to put them.

sold one for $408,000.

Mr. Abouzeid doesn’t have that kind of money, but in a June 2020 “I.P.O.” from Valley Road, he purchased 125 “shares” of one at a price of $25 each.

vintage whiskey. But Johnson & Johnson and Jack Daniel’s don’t interest him.

His Merrill Lynch account contains shares of companies like Sarepta Therapeutics, a maker of precision genetic medicines that treat rare neuromuscular and central nervous system diseases. His fridge is filled with rare, vintage Kacho Fugetsu.

“When my parents saw them in my apartment, they got really worried,” he said. “They said, ‘Is there something we need to talk about?’ But I don’t even open them.”

Earlier this month, when rising interest rates sent high-flying tech stocks into a tailspin, Kacho Fugetsu provided what Mr. Moses called “the perfect hedge.”

Of course, he’s aware that the ascent of his whiskey collection also could come to an end, but that at least has an upside. “Then I’ll finally have an excuse to drink it,” he said.

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Squishmallows Are Taking Over

Over the last few months, bulbous and brightly colored plush toys have sparked a Beanie Babies-style craze among children, teenagers and adults alike.

Squishmallows, a line of soft, huggable toys created in 2017, have exploded in popularity during the pandemic, thanks to social media and in particular TikTok (or “SquishTok,” as fans call it). Collectors say the stuffed animals have given them comfort in a painful year, and that hunting for them has fostered a much-needed sense of community during an extended period of isolation.

“Even though the craze was coming before the pandemic, it certainly hit a fever pitch in the past year, and this craving for comfort is a big part of it,” said Kelly Deen, senior vice president of marketing at Jazwares, the parent company of Kellytoy, which created Squishmallows.

Jazwares said in early March that it has sold more than 73 million toys. (In February 2020, The Toy Book, a trade publication, reported that the company had sold 50 million Squishmallows.) According to the company, sales of Squishmallows have tripled in the past six months.

videos from their quests and memes about the frenzy on TikTok (where videos with the hashtag #squishmallows have accrued hundreds of millions of views), Instagram and Reddit. They also trade tips about where to find highly coveted characters.

Ilana Wiles, 46, a mother and Instagram influencer in New York City, said that she and her husband often take their 11-year-old daughter, Mazzy, on Squishmallow scavenger hunts around the city and on Long Island.

“It’s a fun activity, and they’re not that expensive if you’re buying them at a retail store,” Ms. Wiles said. “It’s a very big reward for not a lot of money.” Most of the toys are priced between $10 and $40, depending on their size.

Insider, Squishmallows are being resold for hundreds of dollars on sites like Mercari.

“The success of Squishmallows comes from the exclusivity, which helps drive collectibility, said Jonathan Kelly, co-president of Kellytoy. He said that the company is increasing production to keep up with demand.

“It’s created a lot of issues finding them in stores,” said Rebecca Brown, 21, a college student in Huntsville, Ala., who has 325 Squishmallows. “There’s a lot of scalpers now that go out and buy an entire store’s stock.”

Ms. Brown said Squishmallows have become particularly popular among students during the pandemic. Some position their Squishmallows in frame during their Zoom classes as a conversation starter or to show off their collections. Ms. Brown’s school, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has its own local Squishmallow Instagram page, where fans can meet online and in-person and connect with each other.

Gabrielle Marquez, 18, has about 70 Squishmallows. She keeps the larger ones on her bed and the smaller ones on a bookshelf or tucked away in a toy hammock or bedroom chair. She said that the stuffed animals are especially popular with young people dealing with anxiety or depression. “If you’re feeling down it helps to have something to hug or go out and make yourself happy by buying a new one,” she said.

Ms. Marquez has enjoyed “being able to find a community of other people who share the same common interest and talk with them about Squishmallows during lockdown when there’s not that much else we can do. I use this hobby to connect with friends all over, I have friends in other states and Canada now.” Last Wednesday, her high school declared the day “Squishmallow Wednesday” during a virtual assembly.

“When I’m doing school I can look over at my bed and see a fun unicorn or dragon or octopus looking over at me,” said Isa Armstrong, a high school sophomore in Westchester, N.Y. “It just brings me happiness and that warm and fuzzy feeling.”

She and other fans said they liked the inclusivity reflected in the bios of the plush dolls. “They just released a couple Squishmallows that are gender-neutral and use they/them pronouns,” Ms. Armstrong, 16, said. “I feel like it’s normalizing it for children, and I love that.”

Ms. Wiles said she hopes to take her daughter out Squishmallow hunting again soon. “There’s something so innocent about it that I fully support it,” she said. “We’ve just spent an entire year where kids are just at home on their iPads, so just that there’s something that’s captivating them that’s so simple and pure, it’s kind of nice.”

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