One of the purposes of NFTs is that they can be used to trace the digital provenance of an object, allowing a select few to prove ownership.
The photo released by Christie’s shows a digital collage titled Everydays: The First 5,000 Days, by an artist named Beeple. (Christie’s via AP)
London: A digital work of art, altered using cryptocurrency technology to make it unique, was auctioned off this week for almost $ 70 million. This transaction grabbed headlines around the world and sparked already growing interest in these types of digital items – known as non-fungible tokens or NFTs – that have captured the attention of artists and collectors.
A no-what token?
In economic jargon, a fungible token is an asset that can be traded on a one-for-one basis. Think about dollars or bitcoin – each is exactly the same in value and can be traded freely. A non-fungible object, on the other hand, has its own distinct value, such as an old house or a classic car.
Cross this notion with the cryptocurrency technology known as blockchain and you get NFTs. These are actually digital certificates of authenticity that can be attached to digital art or, well, just about anything that comes in digital form – audio files, video clips, animated stickers, that item that you read.
NFTs confirm ownership of an item by recording details on a digital ledger known as a blockchain, which is public and stored on computers across the internet, effectively making it impossible to lose or destroy.
Right now, these tokens are white-hot in the collectibles world, where they are used to solve a central problem for digital collectibles: how to claim ownership of something that can be easily and easily duplicated. ‘infinite.
I still do not understand. Can’t anyone just copy digital content from the Internet?
Of course, anyone can download a copy of Beeple’s art from their social media feed, print it out, and hang it on the wall. Just like you can take a picture of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre or buy a print in the museum shop. But that doesn’t mean you own these original works of art.
One of the purposes of NFTs is that they can be used to trace the digital provenance of an object, allowing a select few to prove ownership. Overall, it’s a way to create scarcity – albeit an artificial one – so that you can sell something for higher prices because of its scarcity.
“All the time, money, and effort that you put into your digital life, you can create value for it,” said Andrew Steinwold, Chicago fund manager, who started an NFT fund in 2019. “ You have property rights in the physical world. Why don’t we have property rights in the digital world? “
Some NFT issuers grant full copyright to the buyer, others do not.
So what is a Beeple?
Beeple is an American digital artist based in South Carolina whose real name is Mike Winkelmann. He has been creating digital sketches daily using 3D tools for 13 years. Christie’s auction house calls their work “abstract, fantastic, grotesque or absurd”. He has 1.9 million followers on Instagram.
In December, the first large-scale auction of his art grossed $ 3.5 million, an eye-catching amount that was surpassed by his record-breaking collage sale this week. Daily: the first 5,000 days for nearly $ 70 million, paid for in a digital currency known as Ethereum.
So who else is selling NFTs?
William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame sold 90,000 virtual collectible cards last year for $ 1 each. Electronic musician Grimes sold for $ 6 million his digital art worth last month, including a music video featuring winged cherubs floating in pastel dreamy landscapes for $ 389,000. NBA Star Clips LeBron James diving sell for up to $ 225,000. Actress Lindsey Lohan has sold an image of her face. You can also buy virtual land in video games and memes characters like Nyan’s cat.
Digital artist Anne Spalter started out as an NFT skeptic, but has now sold several works of art using the tokens. The most recent was a video titled Dark castles – mysteriously warped castles generated by artificial intelligence technology – which sold for $ 2,752.
“NFT opened up art to a whole bunch of people who would never have been to a gallery in New York City,” said Spalter, who pioneered digital art classes at Brown University and Rhode. Island School of Design in the 1990s. “They’re investors, they’re tech entrepreneurs, they’re in this world.”
But who would spend $ 70 million on one?
Christie’s on Friday identified the buyer of Beeple’s work as the funder of a digital art fund under the pseudonym Metakovan, an announcement that could fuel concerns of a bubble in the art market of the cryptocurrency. The buyer founded Metapurse, described as the world’s largest NFT fund, which should receive more attention.
The UK auction house said the purchase makes Beeple’s piece the third most valuable piece of art ever sold by a living artist, behind works by Jeff Koons and David Hockney.
Spalter said she expects this bubble to burst, although she still believes NFTs hold promise for artists as a way to reduce fraud and misattribution of works.
“I am still in awe of the prices and their high level,” she said. “I think there will be a correction.”