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This artist sold an entirely digital painting for $69 million. Here’s how

An artist named Beeple sold a digital painting for $69 million

SHARE This artist sold an entirely digital painting for $69 million. Here’s how
This undated photo released by Christie’s on Thursday, March 11, 2021 shows a digital collage titled “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days,” by an artist named Beeple. Christie’s says it has auctioned off a digital collage by an artist named Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, for nearly $70 million, in an unprecedented sale of a digital artwork that fetched more money than physical works by many better known artists.

This undated photo released by Christie’s on Thursday, March 11, 2021 shows a digital collage titled “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days,” by an artist named Beeple. Christie’s says it has auctioned off a digital collage by an artist named Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, for nearly $70 million, in an unprecedented sale of a digital artwork that fetched more money than physical works by many better known artists.

Associated Press

An artist named Beeple just sold a digital painting for $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction house, according to The Washington Post.

  • The amount “is the third-highest ever for a work by a living artist, second only to pieces sold by art-world giants Jeff Koons and David Hockney,” per The Washington Post.
  • The painting was sold through a non-fungible tokens, or a NFT.

What is a NFT?

NFTs — non-fungible tokens — are digital certificates of ownership for digital items. This certifies the digital item as a unique item. It’s similar to how baseball or basketball cards are certified before they’re sold.

  • Digital Spy has a better explanation: “Basically, it is a smart contract that is put together using bits of open source code, which anyone can find from platforms like GitHub, and used to secure that digital item. Once the code is written, it is then minted, or permanently published, into a token (most commonly a token called an ERC 721) on a blockchain, like Ethereum.”

So you can make NFTs for jpegs, gifs, videos and, of course, tweets. However, according to Digital Spy, you could make articles and event tickets NFTs.

  • “Once the NFT is purchased, the owner has the digital rights to resell, distribute or license the digital asset as they please,” according to Digital Spy. The creator could add limitations for how NFTs are used, though.

Why it matters

Todd Levin, a New York art adviser, said he felt “mixed” about the Beeple sale because of what it says about the current art industry, according to The New York Times.

  • “On the one hand, it’s super exciting to witness a historical inflection point,” Levin said. “On the other hand, the amount of money involved could skew and damage a nascent emerging market.”