The piece, titled Everydays: The First 5,000 Days, sold for $US69.4 million ($A89.5 million) in an online auction, “positioning him among the top three most valuable living artists”, Christie’s said via Twitter on Thursday.
Christie’s said it also marks the first time a major auction house has offered a digital-only artwork with a non-fungible token as a guarantee of its authenticity, as well as the first time cryptocurrency has been used to pay for an artwork at auction.
Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, responded to the sale result with an expletive on Twitter.
“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,” Beeple said in a statement released by Christie’s.
“With NFT’s that has now changed. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history, digital art.”
Christie’s did not identify the buyer of the artwork, which consists of 5000 individual digital pictures stitched together that Beeple created – one each day – since May 2007.
Non-fungible tokens, known as NFTs, are electronic identifiers confirming a digital collectible is real by recording the details on a digital ledger known as a blockchain.
The tokens have swept the online collecting world recently, an offshoot of the boom in cryptocurrencies. They are used to prove that an item is one of a kind and are aimed at solving a problem central to digital collectibles: how to claim ownership of something that can be easily and endlessly duplicated.
Christie’s said the artwork fetched the highest price in an online-only auction and the highest price for any winning bid placed online.
About 22 million people tuned in on the Christie’s website for the final moments of bidding, with bidders from 11 countries taking part.
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.