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Digital Artwork Sells for Nearly $70 Million

"EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS" is a collage, by digital artist BEEPLE. It sold at auction Thursday for nearly $70 million. Handout obtained by Reuters. Christie's Images LTD.
Digital Artwork Sells for Nearly $70 Million
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A piece of art that exists only on a computer, created by BEEPLE, sold Thursday for nearly $70 million. BEEPLE’s real name is Mike Winkelmann.

His artwork is a collection of 5,000 images called “Everydays – The First 5000 Days.” The work he created is a common image file called a jpeg.

It is the first time that an auction company – in this case, Christie’s – sold a piece of art you cannot touch.

Artwork similar to BEEPLE’s piece is now known as an NFT, or Non-Fungible Token. Artists use technology called blockchain to prove they are selling original work.

BEEPLE will keep making money each time his art sells. He has a contract that pays him 10 percent of the selling price each time someone new becomes the owner.

BEEPLE makes art about technology, wealth and American politics. He has also made art for music performances by Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and One Direction.

He said without the new technology that proves the identity of the owner and the creator, there was “no way to collect digital art.”

Last month, a 10-second video showing an image of former U.S. President Donald Trump sold on an NFT marketplace for over $6 million.

When asked about his artwork selling for over 10 times that, Beeple said: “It’s so crazy.”

Since the technology is so new, not many people know what the future holds for NFT art. Some may grow in value while others may become worthless, BEEPLE said.

NFTs are used to sell sports videos, pieces of land in worlds that only exist on computers and even the first-ever tweet by Twitter’s founder.

BEEPLE said NFTs give people who want to invest their money an option beyond the stock market.

Max Dilendorf is a cryptocurrency lawyer in New York City.

He said many people who are investing in NFTs do not really know what they are getting into.

“From my experience, participants in NFT markets are not really thinking it through carefully.”

At the same time, however, he said he expects NFTs to continue to grow.

He said he thinks the physical art market will become digital in the next five years.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Elizabeth Howcroft wrote this story for Reuters. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Would you buy a piece of art you could not touch? We want to hear from you. Tell us in the Comments Section and visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

auction –n. a public sale at which things are sold to the people who offer to pay the most

token –n. something that is a symbol of a feeling, event, etc.

original –adj. made or produced first : not a copy, translation, etc.

digital –adj. using or characterized by computer technology

crazy –adj. very strange or unusual

cryptocurrency –n. money that is protected by digital security that does not have a physical form

participant –n. a person who is involved in an activity or event