Art world rocked as digital collage fetches about Rs 501 crore

Los Angeles, Mar 12 (AFP):
A digital collage by American artist Beeple sold for a record $69.3 million (about Rs 501 crore) at Christie’s auctioneers, as virtual art rapidly establishes itself as a new — and highly profitable — creative genre.
“Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” became the most expensive ever “non-fungible token” (NFT) — a collectible digital asset that uses blockchain technology to turn virtual work into a unique item.
Christie’s said Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, is now among the top three most valuable living artists in any medium alongside Jeff Koons and David Hockney.
The 39-year-old artist said that his work, on a JPEG, had “as much craft, message, nuance and intent as anything made on a physical canvas.”
“Artists have been using hardware and software to create artwork and distribute it on the internet for the last 20+ years but there was never a real way to truly own and collect it. With NFTs that has now changed,” he added.
“I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history.”
“Everydays” was the first purely digital NFT work of art to go under the hammer at a major auction house. Its buyer has not been publicly identified.
The collage is based on a project beginning on May 1, 2007, when Beeple was a bored web designer and started to create a work of art each day, without interruption, to improve his drawing and graphic design.
After 5,000 consecutive days, “Everydays” brought together his daily pieces in digital form, beginning with a simple image of his Uncle Jim and ending on a detailed graphic portrait of characters from Donald Trump to Buzz Lightyear to Michael Jackson, depicted as dystopian muses around a child drawing.
Since 2007, Beeple has accumulated nearly two million Instagram followers and collaborated with major brands and famous musicians, attracted by his imaginative graphic universe.
But he had never sold any work under his own name until recently, when the new technology catapulted him into orbit as one of the most fashionable artists in the world.
“Beeple’s success is a testament to the exciting possibilities ahead for this nascent marketplace. This result is a clarion call to all digital artists. Your work has value,” said Noah Davis, a contemporary art specialist at Christie’s.

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