Famous auction house Christie’s wasn’t sure exactly what kind of demand it would encounter when it announced a starting price of $ 100 for its very first digital art auction using a non-fungible token. , or NFT, in February.
Three weeks later, he had a response worth $ 69 million.
A bidding war erupted Thursday to close at a final price of $ 69.35 million on a collage of works, dubbed “Daily: the first 5,000 days, “by rising digital artist Beeple (also known as Mike Winkelmann.) As Christie’s contemporary art scholar Noah Davis explained, nothing he’s seen before” comes close “.
“The first 10 minutes of this sale, we had over 100 bids placed. We went from an opening bid of $ 100 to over $ 1 million. We had bidders from seven different countries,” Davis told Yahoo Finance Live. “What is a really compelling statistic, and probably the most astonishing to me, is that only three of these bidders were known to Christie’s yet, so everyone was brand new.”
This is perhaps not very surprising, given how many people are still learning NFTs and how digital tokens work to digitize asset ownership on blockchains. Technology has enabled verifiable digital ownership and resale of everything from digital art to NBA highlights that have sold for thousands of dollars on the NBA Top Shot platform. Even the artist himself, Beeple was only recently catapulted into the mainstream after one of his other artwork, a 10-second clip of people walking near a naked Donald Trump, was sold for $ 6.6 million after selling just over $ 66,000 four months previously.
So why pay for digital art that anyone can view, download, or embed elsewhere for free on the Internet? As Beeple and other digital artists have tried to explain: Anyone can take a picture of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, but it does not prove Mona Lisa ownership in the same way as having an NFT attached to it. the artwork can do it. Unlike physical art, ownership cannot be proven simply by possession, which is why the public history of an unmodifiable blockchain has real value for digital art that can be easily copied.
“NFTs have a lot of very interesting and unique properties,” Davis said. “It establishes the rarity, it solves the question of authenticity testing, there is no way to forge this work of art.”
Critics might point out that DTVs are still a bit detached from a real sense of ownership. In the case of many NFT sales, commercial ownership of the artwork belongs to the original artists. NBA Top Shot NFTs for Collectible Video Highlights also don’t give collectors commercial rights (the NBA keeps them.) Beeple to make money on previously less valuable projects.
“I know so many people are going to feel empowered to get creative with their digital artwork,” Davis said of Christie’s first NFT auction, adding that more may follow. “We’re going to have a lot more responsibility in this space to organize our content thoughtfully and deliver only the best of the best to the audience we have.”
The First 5,000 Days auction, which consists of an NFT for a digital photo collage of each daily piece of art in Beeple’s back-to-back 5,000 days series, closed at a final price of $ 69,346,250. The auction also marks the first time that Christie’s has considered accepting cryptocurrency as a method of payment.
This article was originally published on March 10, 2021.
Zack Guzman is a presenter for Yahoo Finance Live as well as a senior writer covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, cryptocurrency and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on twitter @zGuz.