A Piece Of Digital Artwork Just Auctioned For A Stunning $69 Million!

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"Everydays: The First 5000 days," a collage of digital prints published by digital artist Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, sold for $69 million (Credit: Christie's)

When Christie's set out to auction its first-ever digital-only artwork — "Everydays: The First 5000 Days"— on March 1, 2021, they had fully expected it to fetch more than the minimum bid of $100. However, the 255-year-old British auction house had never in its wildest dreams envisioned that the unique masterpiece, minted by Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, would fetch a record $60.25 million ($69.3 million with fees).

This is the highest price ever paid for a purely digital piece of art and the third-highest for the work of a living artist. Topping the list is Jeff Koons, whose "Rabbit" sold for $91.1 million in 2019, followed by David Hockney, whose "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" fetched $90.2 million in 2018.

Christie's says the online auction, conducted over ten days, drew widespread interest from Beeple fans worldwide. The bid price rapidly escalated from $4 million on March 5, 2021, to over $14 million by the morning of March 11, 2021. It steadily rose to $37.5 million before soaring to $50 million in the auction's final few minutes, and, then, to the unprecedented hammer price of $60.25 million. Fittingly, the digital masterpiece was paid for in Ethereum — a digital currency traded via online exchanges and stored in various types of cryptocurrency wallets.

The winning buyer was later identified as Vignesh Sundaresan, a Singapore-based crypto investor and co-founder of NFT fund Metapurse. Sundaresan, who goes by the pseudonym Metakovan, told CNBC News that he would have willingly paid even more for the digital image. “This NFT is a significant piece of art history," the entrepreneur explained. “Sometimes these things take some time for everyone to recognize and realize. I’m OK with that. I had the opportunity to be part of this very important shift in how art has been perceived for centuries.”

Winkelmann's quest to publish a daily digital artwork under the nickname Beeple began in May 2007, with a caricature of his uncle Joe. While initially meant to market his skills to corporations such as Apple and Adobe, the talented artist soon gained a loyal fan base eager to see his "everydays." However, despite having over 2 million followers on Instagram, Beeple was unable to sell his digital artwork. That's because it was hard for a potential buyer to claim ownership of something that could be easily and endlessly duplicated.

However, that changed in 2019, after Beeple imprinted all his artwork with non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Built on the same technology as popular cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin, NFTs allow artists and collectors to prove and track ownership of digital assets. The purchaser of an NFT receives a record and a hash code showing ownership of the unique token associated with the particular digital asset, not the asset itself. While the contract may include other associated rights — such as the permission to use, copy, and display the images and/or video associated with the NFT for personal, non-commercial use — they are not guaranteed. The technology has been around since 2015, but NFTs only began to gain traction with the online collecting world in 2017, after the blockchain Ethereum introduced a new standard that supported the unique tokens. Their popularity has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beeple sold his first two NFT art pieces in October 2020 for over $60,000 each and a third, in February 2021, for a nifty $6.6 million! Buoyed by the success, the artist collaborated with Christie's to create a collage of the first 5000 "everydays" images he has produced since 2007, and the rest, as they say, is history!

The adoption of NFTs allowed Beeple to start monetizing his art (Credit: Christie's)

The thrilled multimillionaire says, “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 NFTs, that has now changed. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history, digital art.”

Artists are not the only ones benefiting from the NFT mania. On March 22, 2021, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's first-ever tweet, offered for sale as an NFT, was snapped up by a Malaysia-based businessman for 1,630.58 ether, worth about $2.9 million at the time of the purchase. Dorsey plans to donate the proceeds from the March 21, 2006, tweet, which read, "just setting up my twttr," to charity.

Resources: BBC.com, Dezeen.com, CNet.com, theGuardian.com

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145 Comments
  • frisk_undertale
    frisk_undertaleMonday, April 12, 2021 at 9:52 am
    I LOVE NEON CAT 🐈
    • imwiththegforce
      imwiththegforceMonday, April 12, 2021 at 9:29 am
      The emoji ones nice, hm maybe 200dollars max? But the first one with a bunch of random pictures i'm very skeptical of. I wouldn't give 50 bucks for it let alone 69m!!! 🙄
      • dazyh
        dazyhMonday, April 12, 2021 at 9:28 am
        Is this painting a drawing, or a photograph?
        • that1bisexual
          that1bisexualMonday, April 12, 2021 at 9:06 am
          Well, a lot of digital art can take literally hours on end, and being a digital artist myself, I can understand why he would want so much, because that art piece would take FOREVER!!😬
          • imwiththegforce
            imwiththegforceMonday, April 12, 2021 at 9:30 am
            when u say so much you mean 69ms........ way way way to much
            • imwiththegforce
              imwiththegforceMonday, April 12, 2021 at 9:25 am
              It only seems like a bunch of pictures stuck together.
            • mermaid_kbug
              mermaid_kbugMonday, April 12, 2021 at 8:40 am
              what that's so awesome😜 i wonder how they did that!!!!!!!!
              • randomperson016
                randomperson016Monday, April 12, 2021 at 6:21 am
                Whoa that's amazing!!
                • tigersword
                  tigerswordSunday, April 11, 2021 at 9:29 pm
                  these things can get crazy...
                  • i008
                    i008Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 4:55 pm
                    An emoji in the ancient times?
                    • sg123
                      sg123Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 4:45 pm
                      At first, I thought this was a typo or something😜... But I do understand how that the artwork could change or have an impact on someone's life. Personally, I would just not give that much money for digital artwork though. Also, Beeples reaction was soo funny lol.
                      • imwiththegforce
                        imwiththegforceSunday, April 11, 2021 at 7:39 am
                        I do not understand. Is the person who made that famous or something? How would that painting be worth 69m? Also its only digital. I have seen a lot of real life painting like it but i'm sure they were only worth 500max.
                        • jango
                          jangoMonday, April 12, 2021 at 5:53 am
                          beeple is semifamous and the highest selling art work was Salvator Mundi, (by Leonardo da Vinci) which on November 15 2017 sold for $450.3 million (ironically also at Christie's)
                          • tigersword
                            tigerswordSunday, April 11, 2021 at 9:29 pm
                            you got to understand modern art, they're unique, and it's all about the idea behind it, which is why it's worth so much; it's the idea
                            • imwiththegforce
                              imwiththegforceMonday, April 12, 2021 at 9:24 am
                              all paintings have an "Idea" But the majority of pieces sell for less then 300 dollars let alone 69m 🤣
                              • imwiththegforce
                                imwiththegforceMonday, April 12, 2021 at 7:19 am
                                But i've seen paintings just like those but they r soo soo cheap!
                              • queenira
                                queeniraSunday, April 11, 2021 at 6:43 pm
                                Right they never had made something cost that much bc I know people are good artist but they're are better artist and worth just 500max and the one they are showing is worth 65m???😑😐😑😐😶 period.