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A blockchain-based digital artwork has just sold at Christie’s for a history-making $69 million, putting its creator “among the top three most valuable living artists,” according to the auction house.
Digital artist Mike Winkelmann, a k a Beeple, made international headlines earlier this month when it was announced that his work, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” would be showing at the London-based auction house on Thursday.
The pixel-esque collage consists of rows on rows of thumbnail-sized illustrations, many of which are heavily inspired by sci-fi culture, and represent 5,000 days of Winkelmann’s tireless practice in the computer arts.
Beeple’s work had previously made waves after Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile turned out $6.6 million for the sale of a 10-second digital animation, titled “Crossroad,” which he purchased for a somewhat cringe-worthy $66,666.66.
But it wasn’t so much an investment in Winkelmann’s art as it was his medium: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which grant access to information stored on highly secure blockchains. Only the keeper of the NFT can access Beeple’s original file.
Granted, anyone can see the video online now, but only one person has proof of the original file.
“He showed us this collage, and that was my eureka moment when I knew this was going to be extremely important,” said Noah Davis, a specialist in post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s, according to the Verge. “It was just so monumental and so indicative of what NFTs can do.”
NFT-based art is already on a rapid pace to become some of the most valuable produced today. Last month, the multi-talented artist Grimes also sold $6 million worth of digital art in the form of NFTs, the Verge reported on March 1.
In a statement following Thursday’s record-breaking sale, Winkelmann acknowledged that the moment marked “the next chapter of art history.”
“Now there is a way to collect digital art,” he said.