Beeple Sells NFT for a Historic $69 Million at Christie's First Crypto Art Auction

Maria Gracia Santillana | March 11, 2021 | culture

Beeple's "5000 Days" artwork sold for $69 million at Christie's auction

Beeple's "5000 Days" artwork sold for $69 million at Christie's auction

Digital artist Beeple has made history with the first-ever fully digital artwork to be sold by a major auction house. Today, he sold an digital art piece, commonly known as an NFT, at a Christie's auction for $69 million. That's the largest sale of an NFT to date.

The Verge reported on the record-breaking sale, which comes on the heels of a boost in NFT sales and two weeks of bidding. The art piece sold, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, is a collage of Beeple’s previous digital works from the beginning of his “Everydays” project, in which he committed to making one digital artwork a day.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique media files that live on a blockchain, amounting to verifiable ownership of works of art. Once purchased, buyers usually get full access to the artwork and any additional content the creator may attach. Display rights are limited, however, and in some ways, buyers are just purchasing the equivalent of a digital certificate of authenticity and an asset they may be able to resell later.

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NFTs have blown up in the past month, with some sales and resales topping $6 million, but some collectors believe this is nothing compared to what NFTs will be worth down the road. For the moment, NFTs are seen as the way to acquire and trade digital art.

Beeple's $69 million may seem like a lot for a digital piece when no physical copy of the piece will be shipped to the new owner. But Beeple is not just any digital creator. With 2.5 million followers across social media channels, he’s amassed a loyal and devoted fanbase during the past decade and will now be remembered for breaking down boundaries to the traditional art world. For 14 years, Beeple has created and published a new digital artwork every single day. “Everydays" perfectly portrays Beeple’s evolution as an artist, from digital shapes and scenery to grotesque political illustrations.

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Everydays: The First 5000 Days showcases the first 5000 pieces, creating a collage of Beeple’s work starting at the beginning of the project when it consisted of somewhat crude sketches.

Even Beeple was surprised by the $69 million price tag.

Auction house Christie’s may have played a role in legitimizing both Beeple’s sale and NFTs as a technology. In its 255 years, Christie’s has sold some of the world’s most famous paintings, including the last-discovered Leonardo da Vinci and the only known portrait of Shakespeare created during his lifetime.

“I do view this as the next chapter of art history,” Beeple said. “Now there is a way to collect digital art.”

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Between Beeple’s expertise, his being at the forefront of NFT sales, and Christie’s established reputation within the fine art world, this is surely only the start for the blockchain’s fine art takeover.

This auction also marked the first time Christie’s has accepted cryptocurrency as a form of payment, reports NBCNews. The auction house will accept payment in the cryptocurrency ether, with the payment made via a digital wallet transfer of ether to Christie’s.

Read more about the sale at The Verge.

Photography by: Beeple