Beeple's NFT-Based Artwork Goes For $69.3 Million at Christie's

Art News, Digital Art, Art Market

March 11, 2021

WTF? Or should we say: NFT?!

The long-awaited Christie's single-lot online sale that perpetrated the NFT art market craze we are living in at the moment is finally concluded - and big time! Beeple's Everydays: The First 5000 Days achieved $69,346,250, setting the third highest price for a living artist at auction, as well as a new world record for any work of digital art. Oh, and it also became the highest price for any winning bid placed online, and the highest total for any online-only auction.

This was also the first time that Christie's accepted cryptocurrency as form of payment, excluding the buyer's premium.

Beeple x Christie's = $69.3 Million

On February 25, Beeple's Everydays: The First 5000 Days's starting bid was just $100. On March 10, it was $13.2 million. Fifteen minutes until the Christie's auction closed, the price went sky high, ending up at a whopping $60.3 million ($69.3 million with buyer's premium).

There were a total of 33 bidders, 91% of them were brand new to Christie's. The majority of them were, as expected, millennials, taking up 58%, followed by Gen X at 33% of potential buyers. Most of them came from the Americas - 55%, 27% from Europe, and 18% from Asia.

Noah Davis, Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s, added:

The last year has been an extraordinary period for the art market, and today’s result is a fitting tribute to the significant digital transformation that has taken place at Christie’s. And just as our business has evolved, so has the way in which art is being made.
I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to introduce the Christie’s audience to Beeple’s work, and I’m honored to welcome all the of the remarkable new clients, who not only bid with us, but reached out to share their brilliant ideas on how to further the crypto art movement. Beeple’s success is a testament to the exciting possibilities ahead for this nascent marketplace. Today’s result is a clarion call to all digital artists. Your work has value. Keep making it. 

Introducing A Bright Future for NFT-Based Artworks?

As you've probably learned by now, an NFT, or non-fungible token, is an individual piece of crypto art, typically a digital file (such as a GIF, a JPEG, or an MP4) that is registered and therefore minted on the blockchain. And because it runs on blockchain technology, it provides the artwork's provenance and ownership, both of which still represent issues for the art market as we know it.

But that all might change now, as the technology can also be designed to give royalty to the artist every time the work changes hands - as is the case with Beeple's art. He previously sold a 10-second video at a NFT platform called Nifty Gateway for $6.6 million on February 26.

We surely witnessed a watershed moment in the development of digital art, as until now creatives working in the field could not claim their place on the market properly. Now, thanks to Beeple, a digital artist's work is the third most expensive artwork by a living artist sold in auction, right after Jeff Koons' $91 million Rabbit and David Hockney's $90 million Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).

Commenting on the sale, Beeple said:

Artists have been using hardware and software to create artwork and distribute it on the internet for the last 20+ years but there was never a real way to truly own and collect it. With NFT’s that has now changed. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history, digital art. This is work that has just as much craft, message, nuance and intent as anything made on a physical canvas and I am beyond honored and humbled to represent the digital art community in this historic moment. 

Does $69 million sound like a precarious, artificially created situation? Perhaps. Time will tell. But let's hope digital artists will nevertheless have a better future to look forward to.

Featured image: Featured image: Beeple - Everydays – The First 5000 Days (detail). Courtesy Christie's.

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