NFT art Beeple sells $6.6 million
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Beeple NFT artwork sells for $6.6 million

Non-fungible token artwork seller Nifty Gateway called the sale of the Donald Trump-bashing piece by Mike “Beeple” Winkelmann historic

A work by crypto artist Beeple has been sold for $6.6 million, according to Gemini-owned Nifty Gateway.

The non-fungible token (NFT) artwork site tweeted out news of the record-breaking sale of the 10-second animated piece, which depicts people walking in front of a giant, nude Donald Trump face down and covered in obscene graffiti. 

The unique NFT art was part of the first drop on Nifty Gateway by Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann. The record-setting price was obtained when “CROSSROAD #1/1” was resold on the secondary market by Nifty Gateway, the company said on Twitter. 

“History has been made,” the company added. “We can confirm that this is a legitimate sale – this was brokered by Nifty Gateway’s art buying services. We have been in directly contact with buyer and have confirmed their identity.”

Nifty Gateway is owned by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ Gemini exchange.

The artwork’s owner is currently listed on Nifty Gateway as owned by Delphina Leucas, but the Tweet announcing the sale—sent on the evening of Feb. 24—described the owner as anonymous.

The market for NFT artwork is exploding, with another Beeple piece—“EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS”—currently being auctioned by the storied auction house Christie’s. The current bid for the collage, which is being auctioned online from Feb. 25 to March 11, is $1.8 million after 117 bids at press time. 

NFT art Beeple sells $6.6 million
Christie’s first auction of a fully NFT artwork (Photo: Christie’s)

The auctioneer made headlines in the crypto space in October, when it sold a mixed media piece of art, “Block 21” by London-based artist Ben Gentilli, for more than $130,000. The work is primarily a physical piece, one of 40 circular panels engraved with a total of 12.3 million digits making up Satoshi Nakamoto’s entire Bitcoin code. It comes with an NFT housed on an OpenDime hardware key that depicts the artwork portrayed in daytime or at night depending on the key’s physical location.

As for Beeple himself, he told a somewhat skeptical CNBC Squawk Alley on Feb. 25 to think of an NFT token the same way you’d think of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson: anyone can have a copy of the song, but that doesn’t mean you own the master recording—which is what the NFT brings. Of course, he added that NFT intellectual property rights law needs a lot of work. So, maybe make a copy of EVERYDAYS now.

Christie’s declined to put an estimate on EVERYDAYS, noting that purely blockchain-based NFT artwork has so far sold only on blockchain-industry marketplaces like Nifty Gateway, where Beeple artworks have already sold for multi-million dollar figures. 

Writing on Christie’s EVERYDAYS page, Noah Davis, a specialist in Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie’s in New York, explained:

“Figures like this make putting an estimate on the sale of Beeple’s first work at Christie’s well-nigh impossible. We’re replacing our typical Estimate on Request with Estimate Unknown. We’re breaking such new ground with this piece, your guess is as good as ours.”

Christie’s is no newcomer to the blockchain world. In December 2018, Modern Consensus reported that the auction house recorded a $323.1 million sale of American Modernists like Jackson Pollack and Alexander Calder on a blockchain.

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.