Art world rocked as digital ‘NFT’ work fetches $69.3 mn

A digital collage by American artist Beaple sold for a record $ 69.3 million to Christie’s auctioneers on Thursday, as virtual art quickly established itself as a new – and highly lucrative – creative genre.

“Every Day: The First 5,000 Days” has become the most expensive “irreplaceable marker” (NFT) to date – a collectible digital asset that uses blockchain technology to turn virtual work into a unique element.

Christie’s said that Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelman, is now among the top three most valuable living artists in any media, along with Jeff Koons and David Hockney.

The 39-year-old artist said his work on JPEG has “as much craft, message, nuance and intent as anything done on a physical canvas”.

“Artists have used hardware and software to create works of art and distribute them on the Internet for the last 20+ years, but there has never been a real way to truly own and collect it. With NFT, which has now changed,” he added. he.

“I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history.”

“Everydays” was the first purely digital work of art by NFT to appear with a hammer in a large auction house. Its buyer has not been publicly identified.

The collage is based on a project that began on May 1, 2007, when Beep was a bored web designer and began creating artwork every day without interruption to improve his drawing and graphic design.

After 5,000 consecutive days, “Everyday” collected its daily songs in digital form, starting with a simple image of Uncle Jim and ending with a detailed graphic portrait of characters from Donald Trump to Buzz Lightyear to Michael Jackson, depicted as dystopian muses around a child’s drawing. .

– Auction for millions of views –

Since 2007, Beep has gained nearly two million followers on Instagram and has collaborated with big brands and famous musicians attracted by his imaginary graphic universe.

But until recently, he had never sold works in his own name when new technology catapulted him into orbit as one of the world’s most modern artists.

NFTs have a documented origin that cannot be changed, guaranteeing authenticity and making the work their own – unlike most materials on the Internet, where content is easily duplicated.

“Beeple’s success is a testament to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for this emerging market. Today’s outcome is a call for clarity to all digital artists. Your work has value,” said Noah Davis, a contemporary art specialist at Christie’s.

The auction house said a record 22 million people watched the dramatic last minutes of the two-week sale, while the price rose among competing bidders from 11 countries.

Almost everyone who actively participated in the auction (91 percent) had never done so before, Christie’s said. More than half of them were between 25 and 40 years old.

Todd Levin, a New York art adviser, told The New York Times that he had mixed emotions from the sale.

“On the one hand, it’s extremely exciting to witness a historic turning point,” Levin said. “On the other hand, the amount of money involved can distort and harm the nascent emerging market.”

At the end of February, another of Beeple’s works, “Crossroads,” was resold for $ 6.6 million on the Nifty Gateway platform, which specializes in virtual works. Beeple from Charleston, South Carolina, received a 10% discount.

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

Although confusing to many, a manic appetite for blockchain-certified virtual objects has spread across different markets.

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet from 2006, which reads “just set up my twttr”, at an ongoing auction, with the auction reaching $ 2.5 million.

The dramatic “moments” of the National Basketball Association’s games have also become collectibles as indispensable tokens – although they remain freely visible online.

A 10-second clip showing a spectacular sequence by superstar LeBron James grossed $ 208,000 on the NBA Top Shot website last month.

tu-mdo-bgs-cat / sst / acb