An NFT collection of digital artwork has sold out for $69.3 million led by the 250-year old auction house, Christie’s – the highest ever sale for an NFT and the third largest art sale in history by a living artist.
The artwork, dubbed ‘THE FIRST 5,000 DAYS,’ was created by digital artist, Beeple, who is also famous for a recent artwork dubbed ‘Crossroads’ which sold for $6.6 million.
The artwork is a depiction of Beeple’s artistic journey over the past 13 years where he has been creating a digital piece of art every single day.
It features an amalgamation of thousands of images. The artist has stitched together recurring themes and colour schemes into an aesthetic whole. The individual pieces are organised in loose chronological order: zooming in reveals pictures by turn abstract, fantastical, grotesque or absurd, deeply personal or representative of current events. Recurring themes include society’s obsession with and fear of technology; the desire for and resentment of wealth; and America’s recent political turbulence.
While the digital piece of art was actually sold for around $60 million, the buyer’s premium was a whooping $9 million – a fee that goes to the auction house.
Interestingly, Justin Sun, the CEO of TRON, was among the key bidders who pushed the price of the art piece up after placing a $60 million bid up from just $35.75 million.
In a series of tweets, Sun expresses his disappointment for the bid closing despite his desire to put in more and actually own the piece of art.
Sun was also one of the potential bidders for the first tweet NFT by Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey.
Beeple is currently the most profitable crypto artist globally with his art having garnered millions of dollars, all happening online.
This historic auction marks a significant inflection point bridging the digital and fine arts industries and helping bring global recognition for digital art.
Christie’s is a British auction house founded in 1766 by James Christie. It is owned by Groupe Artémis, the holding company of François-Henri Pinault. Sales in 2015 totalled £4.8 billion (US$7.4 billion).
By 1989, the auction house had 42% of the global auction market. By 2017, the auction house closed several physical locations due to a decrease in physical sales and its online sales presence expansion.
From 2008 until 2013, Christie’s charged:
25 percent for the first $50,000
20 percent on the amount between $50,001 and $1 million
Some of the popular art pieces sold by Christie’s include:
In 1987, during the Royal Albert Hall auction, Christie’s famously auctioned off a Bugatti Royale automobile for a world record price of £5.5 million
On 11 November 1994, the Codex Leicester was sold to Bill Gates for US$30,802,500
In June 2001, Elton John sold 20 of his cars at Christie’s, saying he didn’t get the chance to drive them because he was out of the country so often. The sale, which included a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, the most expensive at £234,750, and several Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, and Bentleys, raised nearly £2 million
On 16 May 2006, Christie’s auctioned a Stradivarius called The Hammer for a record US$3,544,000. It was, at that time, the most paid at public auction for any musical instrument
In December 2006, a copy of the black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s was sold for £467,200 at Christie’s South Kensington
In November 2007, an album of eight leaves, ink on paper, by China’s Ming Dynasty court painter Dong Qichang was sold at the Christie’s Hong Kong Chinese Paintings Auction for US$6,235,500, a world auction record for the artist
On 24 May 2008, Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas by Claude Monet was sold for a price of $80.4 million, the highest price ever for a Monet
Over a three-day sale in Paris in February 2009, Christie’s auctioned the monumental private collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé for a record-breaking 370 million euros (US$490 million). It was the most expensive private collection ever sold at auction
Christie’s auctioned Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust on 4 May 2010. The piece sold for US$106.5 million, making the sale among the most expensive paintings ever sold
On 14 June 2010 Amedeo Modigliani’s Tête, a limestone sculpture of a woman’s head, became the second most expensive sculpture ever sold and the most expensive work of art sold in France
On 18 April 2012, the silver cup given to the marathon winner, Greek athlete Spyridon Louis, at the first modern Olympic Games staged in Athens in 1896 sold for GB£541,250 (US$860,000), breaking the auction record for Olympic memorabilia
On 22 June 2012, George Washington’s personal annotated copy of the Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America from 1789, which includes The Constitution of the United States and a draft of the Bill of Rights, was sold at Christie’s for a record $9,826,500, with fees the final cost, to The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. This was the record for a document sold at auction
On 12 November 2013, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud sold for US$142.4 million (including the buyer’s premium) to an unnamed buyer, nominally becoming the most expensive work of art ever to be sold at auction
On 11 May 2015, Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) sold for US$179.3 million to an unnamed buyer, becoming the most expensive work of art ever to be sold at auction at Christie’s New York. In November of the same year, Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couché (1917–18) sold at Christie’s in New York for $170.4 million, making it the second most expensive work sold at auction
In May 2016, the Oppenheimer Blue diamond sold for 56.837 million SFr, a record price for a jewel at auction
On 7 July 2016, the highest price ever sold for an old master painting at Christie’s was achieved with £44,882,500 / $58,167,720 / €52,422,760 for Rubens’ Lot and his Daughters
On 11 November 2017, a Patek Philippe Titanium wristwatch Ref. 5208T-010 was sold for 6.226 million US dollars (CHF 6,200,000) in Geneva, making it one of the most expensive watches ever sold at auction
On 15 November 2017, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold for a record $450.3 million (including buyer’s premium)
On 4 July 2019, a bust fragment of Tutankhamun was sold for £4.7 million. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities had tried to stop the auction, citing concerns that the bust had been looted from a temple and illegally taken from Egypt in the 1970s
On June 25, 2020, Christie’s sold a Timurid Quran manuscript, described as “rare and breathtaking”, for £7 million (with fees), ten times its estimate. The price was the highest price ever paid for a Quran manuscript.