Bidding with bitcoin, a world first at Italian auction

While practiced worldwide, Bitcoin mining is part of a growing, underground effort in Venezuela to escape the worst effects of a crippling economic and political crisis and runaway inflation that the IMF says could reach 720 percent this year

Italian auction house Sant'Agostino said Wednesday bidders at its next sale will be able to settle up in bitcoin, a world first according to the auctioneers.

Early next week, around 600 Italian and foreign design objects, mostly pieces of furniture, will go under the hammer at Sant'Agostino and "bitcoins will be accepted as payment", it said in a statement.

Paying with the crypto currency will also be allowed at the following auction at the end of November which will feature paintings, jewelry and watches.

Bitcoin is not generally recognised as a proper currency -- lacking a home country, central bank or treasury -- although its real world use is constantly increasing.

It is traded through blockchain technology, which publicly records transaction details including the unique alphanumeric strings that identify buyers and sellers -- technology which is gaining increasing currency among banks and companies.

Since its creation in 2009, the value of bitcoin against traditional currencies has risen exponentially, although there have been periods of dizzying plunges, too.

It broke through the $5,000 level for the first time last week, having surged from $966 since the start of the year.