MetaKovan, the pseudonymous founder of MetaPurse, is the buyer behind the $69 million winning bid for a Beeple NFT at Christie’s yesterday. It was the third-highest sale price ever for a work from a living artist.
“When you think of high-valued NFTs, this one is going to be pretty hard to beat,” MetaKovan said in a statement published by Christie’s. “And here’s why — it represents 13 years of everyday work. Techniques are replicable and skill is surpassable, but the only thing you can’t hack digitally is time. This is the crown jewel, the most valuable piece of art for this generation. It is worth $1 billion.”
What’s an NFT?
NFTs allow you to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain. NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and it can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games. An NFT can either be one of a kind, like a real-life painting, or one copy of many, like trading cards, but the blockchain keeps track of who has ownership of the file.
NFTs have been making headlines lately, some selling for millions of dollars, with high-profile memes like Nyan Cat and the “deal with it” sunglasses being put up for auction. There’s also a lot of discussion about the massive electricity use and environmental impacts of NFTs. If you (understandably) still have questions, you can read through our NFT FAQ.
The $69 million NFT represented a collage containing 5,000 mostly digital illustrations from Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, that were created for his Everydays series, in which he creates a new artwork every day. Winkelmann’s popularity online and his prolific output surely contributed to the sky-high price, but a key driver was also the growing hype around NFTs.
MetaKovan previously spent more than $2.2 million to acquire 20 single-edition Beeple works in December. Though the works were purchased under an assortment of names, there was apparently just this single entity behind the acquisitions. The organization, MetaPurse, describes itself as a “crypto-exclusive” fund. Its first project involved building those 20 original Beeple works into a digital museum, then effectively selling shares of that museum as digital tokens so that a multitude of buyers can have a stake in these works.
NFTs are digital files that live on a blockchain and validate ownership of a related good — in this case, the collage. Some artists and collectors see them as the future of digital art by finally offering a way for buyers to acquire works that lack a physical component. Prices of NFTs from major artists have exploded in recent weeks, with Grimes selling $6 million worth of NFTs and Steve Aoki selling a single video for $888,888.88.
Winkelmann told The Verge on Monday that he expects to work with the buyer to find ways to physically display the collage. “Do you want it on a TV in your house? We can do that ... want to do it at Art Basel? Let’s project it on the side of a fucking building,” Winkelmann said. “It doesn’t have to be one way. It can be a bunch of different ways over time.”