In October 2020, Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile spent almost $67,000 on a 10-second video artwork that he could have watched for free online. Last week, he sold it for $6.6 million.
You must be wondering what’s so special about it? The video was created by a digital artist Beeple.
His real name is Mike Winkelmann and his digital art has gone insanely viral. His art depicts bizarre, hilarious, disturbing, and sometimes grotesque images. He smashes pop culture, technology, and post apocalyptic terror into a social commentary.
Beeple has 1.8 million Instagram followers. And his art speaks for itself. In fact, his work has been shown at two Super Bowl halftime shows and at least one Justin Bieber concert.
But unlike other artists, he has no gallery representation. And yet in December, his first extensive auction grossed $3.5 million. That too in just one single weekend!
Beeple had reached out to Rodriguez-Fraile for advice on how to sell his digital works in the crypto-world. Beeple had been creating one new image a day for more than a decade but had no way to sell them.
“I realized this person was a superstar and was going to get very far,” Rodriguez-Fraile.
He bought two works by Beeple at auction on the art-commerce site niftygateway.co.
Once he realized that Beeple and crypto-art were becoming mainstream he decided to sell one of the works, a 10-second clip interpreting the aftermath of the 2020 election called “CROSSROAD.”
The 10-second video was authenticated by blockchain, which served as a digital signature to certify original art. Blockchain technology allows the items to be publicly authenticated as one-of-a-kind, unlike traditional online objects which can be endlessly reproduced.
“You can go in the Louvre and take a picture of the Mona Lisa and you can have it there, but it doesn’t have any value because it doesn’t have the provenance or the history of the work,” said Rodriguez-Fraile.
“The reality here is that this is very, very valuable because of who is behind it.”
It’s a new type of digital asset – known as a non-fungible token (NFT) – that has exploded in popularity during the pandemic as enthusiasts and investors scramble to spend enormous sums of money on items that only exist online.
When asked to explain NFTs, Duncan (owner of the auction gateway) used this analogy: Imagine you owned a pair of expensive Air Jordans. If Nike went out of business, those sneakers wouldn’t suddenly disappear from your closet. Why should digital goods—like a Fortnite skin or an original Beeple—be any different?
And to celebrate, Beeple decided to sell few of his artwork at $1!! Yes! He knows that people will re-sell the artwork with higher mark-ups and that’s his aim. It was his way to thank his fans for their continuous support.
What are your thoughts?
Watch the artwork here –