March 12, 2021
“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” Could that familiar quote explain the rationale of the buyer who bid $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction on a piece of art that he or she will never hang on a wall or stage on a gallery floor? Or is the visual likely to skyrocket in value within the foreseeable future?
According to the Times, the digital artist, who goes by Beeple, has created a drawing every single day for the last 13 years. He started with pen and paper but now mostly uses computer software such as the program Cinema 4D.
On March 11, the online auction of a composite of the first 5,000 days of the project took place via Christies, which says it’s the auction house’s first sale of a solely digital artwork. It also was the first time that Christie’s accepted payment in the cryptocurrency Ether.
Beeple is selling these works as nonfungible tokens (NFT)—digital collectibles that use blockchain technology as authentication. An NFT can take any form, but for Beeple, it usually consists of an image or video file, sometimes with a physical object attached, verified with a digital signature on a blockchain. NFTs cleverly respond to the art world’s need for authentication and provenance in an increasingly digital world, permanently linking a digital file to its creator. It makes digital artworks unique, and therefore, sellable.
Specifically, the collage consists of all the images that “has been posting online each day since 2007,” and is described as being an “irreverent visual commentary on 21st century life,” according to New York Magazine’s Vulture.
Research contact: @nytimes