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A digital art by the artist Beeple sold for $69 million: Here’s why it is big news

A piece of digital art or what is known as a Non Fungible Token (NFT) has sold for $69 million. The digital art work by American artist Mike Winkelmann, better known by his artist name Beeple was auctioned by Christie's

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 15, 2021 5:04:26 pm
Beeple, Beeple Digital Art, NFT, NFTs, What is an NFT, Digital Art auction, Beeple artist, Beeple artist real name"EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS" is a collage, by a digital artist BEEPLE, that is on auction at Christie's, unknown location, in this undated handout obtained by Reuters. Christie's Images LTD. 2021/BEEPLE/Handout via REUTERS

A piece of digital art or what is known as a Non Fungible Token (NFT) has sold for $69 million. The digital art work by American artist Mike Winkelmann, better known by his artist name Beeple was auctioned by Christie’s at a standalone online auction, which took place from February 25 to March 11.

This is also the first time that the auction house will accept cryptocurrency in the form of payment, though it will take Ethereum, and not Bitcoins. Christie’s is typically known for auctioning art works, which are well-established and digital art and NFTs are still a relatively new domain. Plus the fact that the artwork fetched such a high price also shows that such art is about to gain more mainstream acceptance.

The work of art in question is titled ‘Winkelmann’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days.’ The art work is a collage of digital images which Beeple has taken everyday since 2007, for a total of 5,000 days straight. The art work was listed for an unknown price by Christie’s, though Beeple had pegged its value at $100.

The $69 million price for Beeple’s NFT comes at a time when digital artworks have witnessed a meteoric rise in value. These NFTs are similar to how cryptocurrency works, which is that they too reside on a blockchain and the owner can be verified in this online ledger.  With NFT’s, there is usually one unique file for the digital artwork, which only the owner possesses. With the sale of his work, Beeple will now transfer the file to the new owner and it will be accompanied by a unique NFT encrypted with the artist’s signature.

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What is an NFT?

Similar to cryptocurrency, NFT’s are also built on blockchain. A blockchain is an online ledger, which is updated in real-time, and all transactions are noted on the ledger. Because no one person or entity controls the blockchain, no one can make changes in the earlier records.

With NFT’s people are selling digital items and the sale and ownership is tracked using the same blockchain technology. An NFT could be any sort of digital item, be it a digital painting, a drawing or GIF. The NFT’s ownership is tracked on the blockchain.

The NFTs are part of the blockchain art movement and while they are not new, their value has really exploded in the past few months. For instance, singer Grimes apparently sold digital NFTs worth $6 million it was reported earlier this month. Grimes’ collection included digital videos, and one video apparently fetched more than $389,000.

Another important NFT which sold for more than half a million dollars is the Nyan Cat, which is a GIF. The creator of the GIF Chris Torres, put the piece up for sale, which was remastered it for its tenth anniversary.


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