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

Except as I understand it they’ve been saying that for quite some time. I get the impression that this is what cryptocurrency/blockchain/NFT folk tell themselves to justify the horrible, horrible environmental impact.

This article seems to be a pretty good summary of the problem:

Ethereum “has been moving” to proof of stake for almost as long as it has existed . It has been so long that “Eth 2.0 PoS Coming Soon!” is something of a running joke. In all that time, any time the ecological cost of PoW is brought up, PoS is touted as the redemption just over the hill- if we can just hang on another few months, the whole network will be green.
Meanwhile, the Ethereum networks’s annual energy consumption is hovering around 24.43 TWh — roughly equivalent to the entire country of Ecuador.


This just adds further weight to the notion that high priced art is a money laundering scam.


As I understand it, the miners are against the move, because they have a lot invested in the “Proof of Work”. Meanwhile, the artists are for the move, for the obvious reasons. It does seem inevitable that the switch to PoS will happen, abet still a “couple of years” away.

(This is on Etherium, bitcoin ain’t ever changing)


In these comments it probably looks like I’m pro NFT, and I’m 100% in agreement with you.

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Duchamp was warning us about this a hundred years ago. The art market is easy to manipulate by a clever salesman. Humans are easily deceived. Even those with a lot of available cash. Especially those with enormous egos. I’ve seen this up close a few times and it is ugly.
Make art and forget about the market, or become a con artist and play that game (cough Koons cough.) Duchamp said, “fuck art” and went off to play chess. A field where expertise is unassailable. (Except, even there, psychology plays an important role in succeeding.)
If I had an extra $50 around I’d declare the entire enterprise a readymade, create an NFT for it, and become famous to undergraduate art students a few generations down the road. Alas, I chose art a long time ago and extra cash I don’t have.
At bottom, that’s what it is. A way to charge artists an entry fee for each work. Someone is getting wealthy by that route. I would not be surprised to learn that is who bought Beeple’s work.


The best part about Duchamp’s story is that, while playing chess, he made this crazy thing, and no one knew about it:
Étant donnés - Wikipedia.

The itch can be scratched, without playing the stupid game.

So I’m old and having trouble grokking this; to me it sounds like someone with a spare $69million donated it to an artist, probably in the hope that someone with even more spare money will make a bigger donation back to him. I don’t have a problem with this, beyond the fact that something is wrong with a system where people have so much spare capital to donate.

I spent a half hour trying to understand this yesterday. To me, this Grumpy Cat NFT auction made it click for me: Grumpy Cat | Foundation

NFT has done something that once seemed impossible or at least impractical: it makes a digital file unique. Yes, you can copy a file but the blockchain wrapper makes that particular embedded file unique (I think the file is embedded?)

The value comes from the fact that the file in this auction is verified as one-of-a-kind by the official Grumpy Cat estate. If you win the auction, the Grumpy Cat people say you own the only official Grumpy Cat NFT. So it’s like a collectible.

I think Twitter plays a big role in this, especially verified accounts which have their own aura of certified prestige. You can own an official Grumpy Cat NFT or an official Nyan Cat NFT. They’re remastered and there may be only one of each if that’s all the creators put out.

I don’t know how Ethereum plays a role in this. Cryptocurrency can be bad for the environment and I assume you could sell an NFT for government cash.

Any chance this was a joke bid that the bidder never plans on paying up on? I mean, come on, 69 million?

To my knowledge, the files are generally not embedded. NFTs are just a pointer to digital assets stored elsewhere, and those are just copies like any other. Even if they were embedded they would not be unique, they would be replicated across all the nodes in the blockchain network, and they would still just be identical copies. Owning a NFT, regardless of its contents, means you have the power to create entries in that distributed ledger concerning it (i.e. transfer that power to somebody else), but it does that by basically being the opposite of unique.

Whether that power meaningfully represents ownership of the artwork (or of the copy it points to, or the many embedded copies if it was embedded in the blockchain, and all the copies made of those copies in either case) is something I guess we’re all going to be deciding together for a while yet. To me it will always seem like sleight of hand to attempt to make something digital “unique” or declare an “original”, because anything you would do with it, including viewing it, involves creating copies.

I think it’s interesting to consider how Christie’s described what exactly they were auctioning in this case.

Per Noah Davis at Christie’s (emphasis mine):

“Acquiring Beeple’s work is a unique opportunity to own an entry in the blockchain itself created by one of the world’s leading digital artists.”

EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS will be delivered directly from Beeple to the buyer, accompanied by a unique NFT encrypted with the artist’s unforgeable signature and uniquely identified on the blockchain. MakersPlace, a digital marketplace, has issued the NFT for the piece.”

The NFT and the artwork are described as separate things. The buyer gets a copy of the art and an NFT, not a “unique” copy of the art, or the “original” artwork. I guess when you’re dealing with sums in the tens of millions, you become very careful about what you’re claiming to be selling.


From the BBC article on this - high bid was £60M, with commission is £68M. So C made ~£8M, unless they’ve borrowed tricks from Ticketmaster.

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