When Christie’s auctioned an artwork yesterday for £50 million, it showed that the world’s high-end art market was changing dramatically. The sale made the 39-year-old American known as Beeple the third richest living artist. What is so different about his collage of 5,000 images and drawings made over 5,000 days is that it doesn’t exist in physical form – it is only available digitally.
Just as bitcoin was the internet’s answer to currency. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are now being called the digital version of a collectable.
With traditional paintings like the Mona Lisa, exact copies can’t be made. But for digital-only artwork, the rules are different. A person can prove that they own the original artwork with their non-fungible token, but anybody can simply click and download a copy of the artwork for themselves.
Lady Pheonix is a leading digital art curator and a good friend of Beeple. She was in the online auction yesterday.