BITCOIN COMES TO THE RESCUE OF THE ART MARKET
Digital art experiences a new impulse along with new payment methods.
Another turn of the screw in a year dominated by uncertainty. The arrival of a new player on the art market made headlines and will bring further shifts: Beeple, a record-breaking digital artist. His real name is Mike Winkelmann (39), a self-taught from Charleston who had been producing (and selling) digital images and creating “visual concerts” for Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. He rose to fame on March 11, when Christie's online topped Everydays, the first 5000 days, for $69.3 million. The number hits. It is also shocking to consider this "archive" a work of art and to know that Beeple is the third most expensive living artist in history after Jeff Koons and David Hockney. It seems that it was yesterday when the market jumped for the sale of Van Gogh's Sunflowers, for just under US $40 million
A unique and unrepeatable work, painted in the 19th century by a great and misunderstood artist, this painting had its counterpart in a museum and was, obviously, an object of desire preceded by a tremendous marketing campaign. It was bought by the Yasuda Company which, thanks to Van Gogh, became famous and sold more insurance than ever in its history. It was news cover in 1987 and opening bell of the art supermarket, leading to the unstoppable price escalation up to 450 million for Leonardo's Salvator Mundi, paid by an Arab prince in 2017. Enigmatic painting, enigmatic buyer. The architect of this sale was Loïc Gouzer, a Swiss with a brilliant career at Christie’s who retired in 2019 to open his own business guided by two allies: intuition and a good eye. A friend of Leo Di Caprio, he shares with the actor his concern for the future of the planet and caring for the environment at the Oceana foundation. Gouzer promoted curated auctions and mixed Leonardo with Warhol in a single sale to empower both. Nobody would have thought of combining renaissance with pop. He now associates Beeeple's record with cryptocurrencies, because Christie's accepted the cryptocurrency payment from Metakovan, founder of Metapurse, a company linked to the creation of data and guarantees for virtual projects. Quick in partnerships, the Swiss priced Leonardo's Salvator Mundi in bitcoins: 7500.
Behind the news a new world appears. Beeple manages to sell a non-physical work of art because he sells the image with an NFT (Non fungible token), digital certificate of authenticity.
In doing so, Beeple's work is the most expensive digital asset ever sold with a certificate of authenticity. This sale marks a turning point for the crypto market and shows the way to protect brands and works from unauthorized copying. In other ways: NFTs incorporate technology similar to bitcoin, the digital currency, albeit with one key difference: while one bitcoin is interchangeable with another bitcoin, each NFT serves as a guarantee of authenticity for the digital asset it labels. Regardless of what it is. In fact, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey turned his first tweet into an NFT weeks ago.
The buyer of Beeple's work Everydays: the first 5000 days, received the digital image with its unique token, which will pass the ownership of the artist to its buyer.
This same token will be registered in a digital ledger known as blockchain, which will save the data of the work and its owner to transfer them in case of future sales. In the same way that provenance is key in the price of a work of art, knowing where it comes from, following its trail, the NFT of this image of US $69.3 million will be contained in the blockchain as an inviolable certification.
The work had 353 offers during the period of 15 days. From a distance, it is a collage with 5000 images, created by Beeple for 13 years, one per day, referring to everyday situations, news or events that attracted attention. A visual language similar to that of a video game, where the user can stop at each image and expand it by zooming in at will.
With more than 2 million followers on Instagram, Beeple believes that his experience (and his millionaire success) can encourage traditional artists to explore the digital universe.
Behind the scenes there are those who think that NFT, digital works and cryptocurrencies are part of an interconnected universe where the possibility of finding “guarantees” for non-physical elements can enable an expanding future. It will only grow if it manages to summon established artists, major league galleries and renowned curators.