Home Magazine New frontiers in the art market: Christie’s and crypto art

Christie's officially makes its debut in the world of crypto art: the auction house will offer for sale a wholly digital artwork realized by the artist Beeple, alias Mike Winkelmann, a graphic designer from South Carolina widely recognized thanks to commercial projects for pop stars such as Justin Bieber and One Direction, and brands including Louis Vuitton and Nike. Beeple's work focuses on society's relation and role with technology.

Related articles: Everything you need to know about art tokenization - How digital is creating new smart ways to collect - Auction Houses Networks

Offered for a starting price of just $100, Everydays - The First 5000 Days is a digital collage of 5,000 images created daily over 13 years from 2007 to 2021 which merges surreal scenes and drawings of politicians, together with cartoon characters. The online auction is scheduled to take place between 25 February and 11 March with a target audience of young collectors and people outside the traditional art market circuit. Beeple's creations are registered on blockchain with an encrypted NFT (Non-Fungible Token) containing the artist's signature. The token verifies the legitimate owner and the authenticity of the creation. 


Beeple, Everydays – The First 5000 Days NFT, 21,069 pixels x 21,069 pixels (316,939,910 bytes). Image courtesy the artist and Christie's.


Generally speaking, the tokenization consists in the process of converting a right on a good (usually owned) into a token, a digital information. The token is then issued on a blockchain platform for exchange between users. In the artistic field, tokenization is a method for fractionized art works. Further, it is interesting to notice in the USA and in Japan tokens are only considered as financial tools that present metadata (digital certificates of ownership on the asset). Exchanges of metadata are provided through smart contracts, which are normally on blockchain Ethereum and the owner of the token becomes the owner of the digital ownership certificate. 

The advantages that tokenization can bring to auction houses are countless, such as democratization of art and consequent increase in potential buyers, diversification of the client portfolio, and elimination of intermediation and transaction costs in buying and selling activities.

"This work certainly opens a window into Beeple's artistic journey, from when he was an anonymous experimenter in digital art until today" the auction house explains, comparing the legitimacy of NFTs to that of Street Art. 

"Not unlike the advent of Street Art as a blue-chip collecting category, NFT-based art is on the threshold of becoming the next ingeniously disruptive force in the art market" the artist affirmed in a statement.

This is not the first time Christie's has offered on the market artworks realized by artificial intelligence. Indeed, at the end of 2018, the auction house sold for $432,000 "Edmond de Belamy de la Famille de Belamy", a portrait produced by an algorithm developed by the French collective Obvious based on thousands of paintings. 


Cover image: Beeple, Everydays – The First 5000 Days NFT, 21,069 pixels x 21,069 pixels (316,939,910 bytes). Image courtesy the artist and Christie's.

Written by Elena Parcianello

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