Digital artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, will auction a collage of 5000 pieces of digital art at the renowned Christie’s auction house. Christie’s claims the sale will be the first non-fungible token (NFT) attached to digital art to be offered at a conventional auction.
Beeple began a project in May of 2007 to post a digital piece of work online every day. Hence the artwork is entitled EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS.
Over the course of the project, Beeple acquired more than 1.8 million followers on Instagram and collaborated with industry leaders such as Louis Vuitton and Nike. Therefore, the value of his art is not only on the art itself but the brand that Beeple established for himself over the years.
One issue with digital art is the ease of duplication, which makes authenticating a piece as an original a tricky and challenging process. This, in turn, lowers the value of digital art as it can be easily copied, making it hard for artists and art sellers to guarantee it is an authentic work. NFTs enable collectors to verify the authenticity of a piece of digital art using blockchain and mitigate the risk of fraud or counterfeit in the industry, adding value to the digital art industry.
Beeple’s work will be delivered to the buyer by him alongside a unique NFT encrypted with his signature. The NFT was issued by digital marketplace MakersPlace.
Beeple has only sold his digital artwork on blockchain-based marketplaces. In December, the artist sold 20 pieces for a total of $3.5 million in a single weekend.
The bidding for the auction piece at Christie’s will run online from February 25th to March 11th, starting at $100 with no final price estimates. “We’re replacing our typical ‘Estimate on Request’ with ‘Estimate Unknown’,” Contemporary Art Specialist Noah Davis. “We’re breaking such new ground with this piece, your guess is as good as ours.”
Despite this being the first fully NFT-based auction of a digital piece, Christie’s has experience selling art on blockchain. In 2018 the auction house sold a 20th Century Art collection by Barney A. Ebsworth on Artory Blockchain for $322 million, making it the most expensive digitally recorded art auction at the time. In addition, in October of 2020 Christie’s became the first traditional auction house to sell physical artwork with an embedded NFT.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchange Gemini Trust, owned by the Winklevoss twins, launched a blockchain-driven platform for buying, selling and storing digital art and other collectibles. In partnership with the NBA, Dapper Labs also has a platform where users can buy and sell collectibles, except the collectibles represent specific moments throughout the NBA’s seasonal games instead of digital art. In the last 30 days, initial and re-sales for the NBA TopShot game have reached almost $70 million.