Christie's first digital art auction leans on blockchain and other buzzwords

NFT uses blockchain tech to verify ownership of digital collectibles, and Christie's will auction this one off next week.

Christie's / Beeple

Blending of the art/collector world and blockchain technology has loomed for several years, and now auction house Christie's is getting into the market with its first ever auction of a digital art collection. Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, made one image every day from May 1st, 2007 to January 7th, 2021. With each piece stitched together in chronological order, the work has been collected as Everydays: The First 5000 Days, with bidding set to open at $100 for an auction running from February 25th to March 11th. Christie's notes that a recent collection from Beeple sold on a blockchain marketplace for $3.5 million.

When it goes up for auction six days from now, potential buyers will bid on the artwork and an associated NFT from Makers Place. An NFT is the non-fungible token that confers ownership rights using blockchain technology to guarantee a single verifiable owner of the artwork. According to Christie's, " the buyer receives the artwork file containing a digital signature from the artist and all vital details including time of creation, edition size and a record of any prior sales."

Beeple has an Instagram following of 1.8 million people and a long list of brand collaborations over the last few years, so Everydays provides a peek at his evolution as an artist. In a statement he said "I think this is a truly historic moment not just for digital art, but for the entire fine art world. The technology is now at a place with the blockchain to be able to prove ownership and have true scarcity with digital artwork so I think we are going to see an explosion of not only new artwork, but also new collectors and I am very honored to be a part of this movement.”

A couple of years ago CryptoKitties was one of the best examples of blockchain art and digital assets, but that market has significantly cooled. A peek at the digital asset marketplace OpenSea shows that of the 100 priciest transactions listed there, only a few have taken place within the last two or three years and DappRadar lists 126 active traders in the last day, down from 14,000 at its peak. Dapper Labs, the makers of CryptoKitties aren't done with digital assets however, and have rolled out a sports collectible licensed by the NBA, NBA Top Shot. There, traders swap entries on the blockchain tied to specific highlights.

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