In February, Christie’s announced that it would soon become the first auction house to offer up a work of NFT art, or a blockchain-based non-fungible token; the artwork in question was made by Beeple, the record-breaking mononymous artist who’s recently garnered attention for the high prices fetched by his whimsical, extremely-online creations. The Christie’s auction kicked off on Thursday, but on Monday, a different work by Beeple sold for a highly impressive sum of $6.6 million via Nifty Gateway, a cryptocurrency marketplace for digital art that’s hosted successful sales of Beeple’s artwork in the past. Within hours of Nifty Gateway’s announcement of the sale, bids on the Christie’s Beeple had leapt to $1.8 million, and the auction will continue to accept bids until March 11th.
The meteoric rise of NFT art, accompanied by Beeple’s status in the press as a main representative of the art form, has culminated in a rare streak of auction wins that has everyone in the auction world Googling what exactly NFT stands for. CROSSROADS, the NFT work by Beeple that fetched $6.6 million at Nifty Gateway, depicts the slumped, naked body of Donald Trump; Trump’s form is shown covered in graffiti that labels him as a Proud Boy and a Loser. The astronomically high sale price also shattered the previous price record for the sale of a single NFT. Beforehand, the most anyone had ever paid for NFT art was $1.55 million; this sale was completed just last week when a work by CryptoPunk 6965 sold for $1.55 million.
Clearly, the emerging NFT market is affixed to a rocket ship that appears, for the moment, to only be going up. “I think this is a truly historic moment not just for digital art, but for the entire fine art world,” Beeple said in a statement to Christie’s in February. “The technology is now at a place with the blockchain to be able to prove ownership and have true scarcity with digital artwork so I think we are going to see an explosion of not only new artwork, but also new collectors and I am very honored to be a part of this movement.”