Christie's to auction blockchain-backed art from digital artist Beeple

Tyrone Stewart

Christie’s will be the first major auction house to sell a purely digital, blockchain-backed piece of art when it opens the bidding for a work of art from digital artist Beeple on Thursday 25 February.

The digital work of art is a non-fungible token (NFT), which is a unique digital token encrypted with the artist’s signature. This NFT is individually identified on the blockchain, meaning the right owner and authenticity of a creation can be verified. Prior to the introduction of NFTs and blockchain technology, there was no way of knowing if a digital piece of art was duplicated or not.

Everydays – The First 5000 Days was created by Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple. On 1 May 2007, Beeple set out to create and post a new work of art every single day – and he has not missed one since. This body of work is known as Everydays and the artwork going on sale represents the first 5,000 of his Everydays compiled into a single composition.

“We see this as a pivotal moment for the future of New Media and even the practice of collecting itself. Everydays – The First 5000 Days is a monumental work comprised of 5,000 individual images created over the course of as many days, giving viewers the opportunity to zoom in and witness Beeple’s often irreverent but always engaging, evolution as an artist pixel by pixel,” said Noah Davis, Post-War and Contemporary Art Specialist at Christie’s. “The capacity to represent 13 years of an artist’s career in a single work perfectly illustrates the limitless nature of this medium. 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. Christie’s is proud to be in the vanguard of this exhilarating movement.”

Beeple recently sold a collection of 20 works for $3.5m on a blockchain-based platform and he has previously worked with brands including Louis Vuitton, Apple, Space X, Nike, and Samsung, while creating concert visuals for the likes of Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Childish Gambino, Nicki Minaj, Skrillex, and Deadmau5, among others.

Bidding for Everydays – The First 5000 Days will open at $100 in a standalone online-only auction from 25 February to 11 March.

“I am beyond excited to have the first 100 per cent digital artwork auctioned at Christie's. I think this is a truly historic moment not just for digital art, but for the entire fine art world,” said Beeple. “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 honoured to be a part of this movement.”