A piece of art that does not exist in the physical world: the first auction of a purely digital work of art was held by Christie’s house this Thursday
The work was sold as an NFT, the latest tech fad that has gained popularity in recent weeks.
NFTs or “non-fungible tokens” are unique property identifiers for non-physical objects, as is the case with digital art.
Beeple creates a new piece of digital art daily and sold the first 5,000 days (13 years) of his work.
The sale places Beeple “among the three most sought-after living artists,” Christie’s said.
The company reported that it is the first work of art under NFT to be sold by a “large” auction house, and that it set a new record in digital art.
Christie’s said on its website that the NFT was a guarantee of the authenticity of the piece and that they had accepted cryptocurrencies as a mode of payment.
The collection is a collage of thousands of individual images that Beeple, an American graphic designer, began making daily since early 2007.
Many of the individual pieces are surreal or haunting, and the artist uses a variety of art programs and digital techniques.
The auction had drawn attention in the days leading up to the sale, with stakes surpassing $ 10 million earlier in the week.
But on the last day of the auction, it rose to the exorbitant final price of $ 69,346,250.
Christie’s told AFP that a record number of 22 million people watched the auction’s final moments during a live broadcast and online.
Beeple responded to the sale by tweeting a series of expletives.
The work “will be delivered directly from Beeple to the buyer, accompanied by a unique and encrypted NFT,” Christie’s said.
Critics of digital tokens warn of the environmental impact they generate because they are stored in a blockchain (chain of blocks), a process similar to that of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum.
Others have suggested that his current popularity is an investment bubble.
But unique tokens allow value to be assigned to digital art, and can be sold and traded similar to physical art as a form of investment.
“Digital art has a history dating back to the 1960s. But the ease of duplication made it nearly impossible to assign provenance and value to the medium,” Christie’s explains on his website.
NFTs have gained momentum in recent weeks. Singer Grimes sold a collection of her digital artwork for more than $ 6 million earlier this month, while the Twitter founder put her first tweet up for sale, with a starting price of $ 2. , 5 million.
In one of the most controversial cases, a group of people burned an original Bansky work before putting it up for sale as digital for $ 380,000.