Why it matters: Christie’s auction house just sold a piece of digital artwork for a staggering $69 million. With the sale, artist Mike Winkelmann is now among the top three most valuable living artists. Given the surging popularity in NFTs and crypto in general, this could very well be the tip of the iceberg of a digital art revolution.
“Everydays: The First 5000 Days” is a collage of digital art created by Mike Winkelmann, a graphic designer known as Beeple. In May 2007, Winkelmann posted a unique piece of digital art online. The next day, he did the same. Remarkably, he kept it up daily for 13-and-a-half years. “Everydays” is a collage of each and every one of those images.
An NFT, or non-fungible token, of the work was minted exclusively for auction at Christie’s. It’s unique in that Christie’s was the first major auction house to offer a purely digital work with a unique NFT. It also brought in a record amount of money: $69,346,250.
Wow. @beeple. $69m for a purely digital work. No matter how you feel about NFT’s, don’t look away from this. It’s okay to not get why someone would pay that, and it’s okay to be bummed about the climate impact. But don’t be willfully ignorant about what’s happening.
— Chris Sacca 🇺🇸 (@sacca) March 11, 2021
Winkelmann is a well-established graphic artist with more than 1.9 million followers on Instagram. He’s collaborated with some of the world’s biggest brands including Nike and Louis Vuitton, and has worked with entertainers like Childish Gambino and Katy Perry, so it’s not as if this is some random person coming out of the woodwork and scoring a fortune.
Conversely, it’ll no doubt be difficult for some to fathom that a person just paid $69 million for a piece of art that only exists digitally.