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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Explained: The rising popularity of Blockchain Art

The total value of the crypto art market today has reached $80 million, with over 60,000 artworks sold till now.

Written by Vandana Kalra , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 27, 2021 10:07:21 am
Christie's will accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment, in this case Ether. (Source: Pixabay)

Sceptics might have traditionally raised concerns regarding the authenticity and exclusivity of purely digital art, but over the years the medium has crept its way into white cube spaces. Now, it is making its debut in the high-ranking auction circuit, with the sale of popular American artist Mike Winkelmann’s work at a Christie’s online standalone auction that is taking place from February 25 to March 11. This is also the first time a major auction house will accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment, in this case Ether.

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A look at the work on sale and the rising popularity of Blockchain Art:

The work on sale

Known for creating wide-ranging digital art, Winkelmann’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days is a collage of images taken everyday since 2007, for 5,000 days straight. Providing a glimpse into the artist’s creative journey, the bidding starts at $100, and the auction house has listed the estimate for the work as “unknown”.

Better known as Beeple, the artist has previously sold his works on blockchain-backed marketplaces. In December 2020, for instance, his work The Complete MF Collection, consisting of 20 pieces, fetched $3.5 million.

How are the transactions made?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital tokens tied to an artwork using blockchain technology, including details regarding provenance and authenticity of artwork. Blockchain introduces what is termed as “digital scarcity”, involving issuing a limited number of copies of an artwork with a unique token (a unique string of numbers that can be used as a digital representation of a physical asset). Everydays: The First 5000 Days will be transferred directly from Beeple to the buyer, accompanied by a unique NFT encrypted with the artist’s signature.

The rising popularity of Blockchain Art

The blockchain art movement includes a vast gambit, from bitcoin graffiti art to artworks such as The Last Bitcoin Supper by French artist Youl, which sold for nearly $3,000 on eBay in 2014. Several digital marketplaces such as Zora, SuperRare, Foundation and Nifty Gateway have emerged in the last few years, where collectors can trade digital works.

According to news reports, the total value of the crypto art market today has reached $80 million, with over 60,000 artworks sold so far. While Beeple is estimated to have sold artwork worth over $7 million, other popular digital artists include Pak, Trevor Jones and José Delbo.

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