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A jpeg for $70m: welcome to the strange world of cryptocurrency art | Sophie Haigney

Technology | The Guardian

It may seem like a lot for a digital-only artwork. But in some ways, NFTs are a continuation of collecting as usual

On 11 March, one of the art world’s signature can-you-believe-it moments made global headlines: a digital-only artwork sold for more than $69m, the third highest price ever paid for an artwork at auction. It was a digital collage by the artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, who until October had never sold a print for more than $100.

This sensational auction came on the heels of simmering interest in “non-fungible tokens”, or NFTs, which finally boiled over into the annals of art auction houses. NFTs are unique assets verified by blockchain technology; as with cryptocurrency, a record of who owns what is stored on a decentralised public ledger of sorts. Thus NFTs function like a digital certificate of authenticity that can be attached to all manner of things, virtual or physical. Mostly now, they are being used to monetise digital assets such as audio files, videos, Gifs, tweets and even virtual versions of sneakers; 621 of them recently sold for a combined $3.1m.

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March 18th 2021, 12:45 pm
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