Digital art at auction: Beeple's 'EVERYDAYS' sells for $69,346,250

Originally published at: Digital art at auction: Beeple's 'EVERYDAYS' sells for $69,346,250 | Boing Boing

NFT is stupid and bad and is encouraging theft of other people’s art (in the sense of tokenizing art for money, even if you don’t own the rights to the art). Is there anything positive about it?


I wouldn’t pay $69M for a JPG. A TIFF maybe, but never a JPG.


Nothing. You’re paying for the “real” version of something that doesn’t really exist, while people pass around thousands of copies that are indistinguishable from the “real” one you bought. Plus, it wastes tons of power, like anything crypto-related.

But hey, I’ve got this exclusive JPG of a bridge that I’d be willing to sell you. This computer says it’s legit. Barely any compression, and the rights to the photo are probably not an issue! I haven’t checked!


Fuck everyone who gets into NFT. Seriously. Only hate and disdain for that suicide cult.

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Fuckers stole Simon Stålenhag (Tales of the Loop) art and tokenized it. Even DARED to tell him on twitter that reporting them was “spitting on fans faces”.

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OK, can someone explain to me these NFT things like I’m a child instead of a 40-something computer science expert (and dabbler in the digital arts)? I know I’m seriously misunderstanding something here, because I don’t get it.

My understanding, which is probably wrong and I’m seriously hoping someone will correct:

  • Someone makes art. (This step is absolutely cool!)

  • Someone who may or may not have made the art creates a token representing “ownership” of the art into a blockchain. Said “ownership” does not actually confer any rights to said artwork, does not represent the copyright of the artwork, and does not include a physical rendition of the artwork, even if said artwork exists in a physical form.

  • Said ownership is auctioned, sold, or otherwise transferred in exchange for tangible goods to the person who owns the NFT, not the person who owns the artwork, physical copy, copyright, or any other actual legal ownership of the artwork.


You’re damn near 100% correct, as far as I can tell. I’d probably elaborate that the blockchain component should mean that every time it is sold it should be written to the chain. They claim this will fix future issues of provenance.

The carbon cost of these tokens is outrageous, if you’ve not seen the article I can dig it out. Like with everything blockchain, it’s a solution looking for a problem.


I’ll give it a go…

This is cool. Also, there’s now a whole generation who have made nothing but digital art, and currently to sell that art they generally need to turn them into limited or open edition prints, then send them via the postal service to someone else in exchange for money.

Sometimes, as we’ve seen here on Boing Boing, these artists get ripped off by other people or corporations reusing their art without permission.

Which is true of physical work, but yes. In most cases, the artist themselves will create (“mint”) the token. In other cases, someone else will take the work and “mint” the token. Nothing is stopping many people from “minting” an NFT and calling it the original. Nothing is stopping the artist from “minting” a number of copies and calling each one an original.

In the “physical” art world, these would be called forgeries and sometimes an expert would be bought in to assign “truth” to which one is the actual original.

In the case of NFTs you would look to see if the original artist could verify that they own the address that “minted” the token. If you can’t validate that, don’t by the artwork. If you can’t be sure who is selling it and can’t trace it back to the original artist, don’t by the artwork. If you buy something claiming to be the “original” and it turns out it was sold by someone else, then I guess you could consider that a forgery and the market will decide what the worth is.

This isn’t really any different to how things work at the moment, being digital doesn’t really change much here.

Yes, but buying an original physical artwork doesn’t confer any of those rights either unless they are transferred in the sale. Buying an artwork doesn’t give you copyright over it, or the right to make many copies of it and sell them. But that legal framework can’t stop you from actually doing it.

As mentioned above, a lot of artwork is now digital, and people are happy to buy digital things (people buy/license music, movies, in game items), buying digital things is not weird, or new.

You can “own” the artwork, which just means you have a token which says you “own” an original. But because it’s digital “owning” it doesn’t mean no-one else can have a copy. The great thing about digital is you or I can have an identical copy of the artwork (within the framework of copyright law), and didn’t have to pay for it.

Yes, just like real art, buying the artwork can be seen as either a way to support the artist or an investment.

However, in the case of physical art sold by a gallery, the gallery would take a 50-70% cut of the value. Then if the artwork is resold the original artist gets none of that money. So, they may sell it via a gallery for $1,000, and get $500. Later the artwork is resold for $10,000 and the artist sees none of that.

With NFTs, the blockchain “contract” can be created that the original seller (which most of the time is the artist) always gets 5% (or whatever is defined) of the sale. So the original artist (if they are the ones who originally sold the “original”), makes residual earnings from the secondary market, which they don’t do at the moment.

There is a number of things wrong with the current NFT market, which you’ve outlined above, and is currently being exaggerated by the bubble/rush that is going on.

However, as a way for artists to sell digital work to supporters willing to pay for it, without being exploited by galleries, art fairs, art markets and dealers, then it’s a step in the right direction. If you think of it as Patreon, and apply the normal laws protecting the copyright of artists, then theoretically it’s a new way for artists who primarily work with digital art to finally be able to sell it directly, rather than offering services.

All that said, the ecological aspect currently outweighs the benefits, but that may change soon-ish.


Nice explanation. I think you’re talking about Proof of Stake, which would drastically reduce the energy intensity of creating entries in a blockchain. Ethereum is supposed to be moving there soon-ish…

I personally, have no desire to buy NFTs, but I see them similar to things like baseball cards, comic books, and other artificially rare collectibles. It’s definitely in bubble territory now, but if the environmental concerns can be fixed (and they might), then I can see a real place for NFTs for certain people in the future

So does this mean Beeple actually gets the millions?

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Needs more fungi.

He is now “among the top three most valuable living artists”, Christie’s said. Christie’s will, of course, cream off a juicy proportion.

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I didn’t go to art school to be part of bullshit like this. I didn’t spend the past few decades struggling as an artist to perpetuate bullshit like this. Every time I go into the studio and pick up a brush, it is intended as a direct assault on bullshit like this. Being reminded of bullshit like this only makes me want to do that more often. Because fuck bullshit like this.


Really… this sounds like a solution in search of a problem. Don’t want to buy a physical piece of art (for some reason), but want to support artists? Patreon exists. Hell, buy a print then give it away. This sounds like gambling, dressed up as something more… like the stock market.


Your understanding seems to be correct:

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Except. The NFT is not the art. It’s at best a symbol of the art. The art is the digital data that forms the pictures and sounds envisioned and created by the artist, and the NFT has nothing to do with it. You could give me two versions of a piece of digital art, one with and one without an attached NFT, and I wouldn’t experience anything different between the two.

So. It’s just a bullshit market that claims to be about art but is just more climate wrecking blockchain wankery. It requires you to lie to yourself that what you purchased has any meaning. Patreon already solved the actual problem.


So if the Met buys a Roy Lichtenstein artwork it can then not also produce and sell tea towels of said artwork in the museum shop?

Genuine question, not trying to call you out

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So someone paid $69M for a piece of artwork. There’s nothing particularly unusual about that.

Won’t the whole NFT-thing-as-an-asset concept depend on this buyer being able to offload his new purchase at some point in the future, for a profit?

There is among living artists. As far as is known only 2 works have been sold for more (and none by the artist).


The artist retains the copyright to the image, so no they can’t make tea-towels, unless…

When the Met buys the artwork, they can also buy/license the right to reproduce the work, which is most likely the deal they have. But only if the person selling the work has the reproduction rights to sell.

In this case the artist is dead, and the artworks are most likely controlled by the estate/etc. The Met probably bought the artwork with some form of license to the reproduction rights (for say 10 years, or they own everything)

It’s not always obvious which is why there’s so much confusion.

You could ask me to paint a beautiful painting of your dog, and I agree to sell you the final painting for $200, but not the reproduction rights. Everyone loves your dog (I mean why wouldn’t they), and they adore the painting, I then blow up on social media and sell thousands of tea towels with the painting of your dog on.

If you don’t want that to happen, you could pay more (say $1,000) for the painting and the rights.

Sometimes a person is surprised when they see the artist selling copies of a work they commissioned. Sometimes an artist is surprised when hey see a client selling copies of a work they painted. So it’s important everyone understands who is buying and selling what to who.