Auction house Christie’s will be auctioning five digital artworks created by Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s. The art will be sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and all profits will go towards The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
The art pieces, which were recovered in 2014, originally only existed as digital files. They were created on Warhol’s Commodore Amiga personal computer, and the rediscovery of his work on some floppy disks excited the art market. The recovery of Warhol’s content was managed by artist Cory Arcngel, who organized a project to extract and restore the files with Carnegie Mellon University and Carnegie Museum of Art.
Christie’s will mint the drawings as NFTs in advance of the auction and transfer the content to the winner’s digital wallet once the sale is complete.
The idea to turn some of Warhol’s work into NFTs came from the artists’ philanthropic foundation following Beeple’s $69 million sale at Christie’s. Besides the attractive final auction price, NFTs are ideal for the foundation because they merge current trends in digital art with the promotion of Warhol’s work.
For art enthusiasts, another benefit of transforming Warhol’s work into NFTs is that it brings a new form of life to his work while guaranteeing its authenticity and uniqueness. By transforming a limited supply into NFTs, Christie’s and the Foundation bring a new feature to some of his work, which might enhance their value.
“For our clients, this is a moment and an opportunity that truly brings together two previously distinct collecting communities – the traditional and the digital – in a shared celebration of Andy Warhol,” said Christie’s art specialist Noah Davis. “As the great visionary of the 20th century who predicted so many universal truths about art, fame, commerce, and technology, Warhol is the ideal artist and NFTs are the ideal medium to re-introduce his pioneering digital artworks through this special dedicated sale at Christie’s.”
Four months ago, NFTs alone were an innovation for the general public. Now, organizations like Christie’s are already finding new angles to market the technology, and bringing back to life renowned digital content might give them a competitive advantage. While the auction house was the first to sell a completely digital artwork as an NFT, it now faces significant competition from other auction houses such as Sotheby’s and NFT marketplaces targeting art such as Winklevoss’ Nifty’s, which recently partnered with Playboy.
Meanwhile, Facebook-owned Instagram is working on an NFT platform and is reaching out to digital artists to assist in the development.