A non-fungible token (NFT) which was a digital collage by the American artist Beeple, a pioneer of the exploding virtual art market, sold for a record $69.3 million, Christie’s announced.

“Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” is now the most expensive “non-fungible token” piece ever sold, a sign of longterm confidence in the burgeoning market that creates collectible digital assets by transforming virtual work into something ownable.

Beeple – an artist from Charleston, South Carolina, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann – is now among the top three most valuable living artists, Christie’s said.

Everydays: The First 5,000 Days by Beeple

“Everydays” is based on a long-term project: beginning on May 1, 2007, when he was still a bored web designer, he sought to create a work of art each day, without interruption, in order to progress in drawing and graphic design.

Now, 5,062 consecutive days later, “Everydays” brings together in digital form his first 5,000 pieces, beginning with a simple image of his Uncle Jim and ending on a detailed graphic portrait of characters from Donald Trump to Buzz Lightyear to Michael Jackson, depicted as dystopian muses around a child drawing.

Since 2007 Beeple has accumulated nearly two million Instagram followers and collaborated with major brands and famous musicians, attracted by his graphic universe.

But he had never sold any work under his own name until recently, when a new technology catapulted him into orbit as one of the most fashionable artists in the world.

What is a non-fungible token?

NFTs are collectible digital assets that use blockchain technology to turn virtual work into something unique, with a documented provenance that cannot be altered, guaranteeing authenticity and making the work ownable.

That goes for pretty much anything on the internet where, previously, content by its nature was easy to duplicate.

At the end of February another of his works, “Crossroads,” was resold for $6.6 million on the platform Nifty Gateway, which specialises in virtual works. Beeple received 10 percent.

And an animation that he himself had sold at the end of October last year for a symbolic dollar was recently acquired for $150,000.

Are non-fungible tokens the future of collectibles and the art market, as their proponents have claimed? Non-fungible tokens contain identifying information recorded in their smart contracts, such as the identity of the owner, rich metadata or secure file links. The purchase of an NFT is registered on the blockchain, providing a permanent record of the transaction while also protecting the artist’s authorship.

Payment is generally made in cryptocurrency, which probably explains why the market for NFTs is booming. According to the cryptocurrency news website BeInCrypto, over $8.9 million worth of NFT-based art was sold last December. A newfound interest for digital art on which Christie’s is hoping to capitalise with the sale of  “Everydays – The First 5000 Days.”

“We see this as a pivotal moment for the future of New Media and even the practice of collecting itself,” Noah Davis, Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art, commented. “Not unlike the advent of Street Art as a blue chip collecting category, NFT-based art is on the threshold of becoming the next ingeniously disruptive force in the art market. Christie’s is proud to be in the vanguard of this exhilarating movement.”

The auction house first tested the waters for non-fungible token-based digital creation last October, when Robert Alice’s “Block 21 (42.36433° N, -71.26189° E)” was offered in New York as part of its Post War and Contemporary Art Day Sale. This digital portrait of the Bitcoin code attracted non-traditional bidders and crypto enthusiasts alike, selling for almost 11 times its low estimate of $12,000 to net $131,250.


This article was published via AFP Relaxnews.

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