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Digital artist Mike Winkelmann — known online as Beeple — has smashed crypto-art records yet again with a nearly $70 million sale.
On Thursday, Winkelmann became one of the top three most valuable living artists, according to Christie’s.
His piece sold for nearly $70 million in an auction that saw furious bidding activity down to the very last minute. The price for the piece jumped from $15 million to over $69 million in under 30 minutes.
Previously, the most expensive crypto-art sale was another Beeple piece that was resold for $6.6 million on Nifty Gateway.
This new piece, titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” represented a collection of 5,000 Beeple digital art pieces. Christie’s specialist Noah Davis calls the piece Beeple’s “opus,” as it shows his development as an artist. The auction lasted over a week and ended on Thursday.
Winkelmann told Insider in a previous interview that prior to recent months, he’d never expected to sell a piece for more than $1,000.
Winkelmann’s piece is a non-fungible token or NFT. NFTs operate as a new type of digital asset. The digital tokens have rapidly gained popularity during the pandemic, as brands like the NBA and Nike got in on the trend and artists like Grimes sold art collections for nearly $6 million in under 20 minutes.
In the past month alone, top NFT platforms have sold nearly $500 million in digital assets, according to CryptoSlam.
Beeple’s $69 million sale represented the first NFT sale for Christie’s — an auction house that was founded in 1766. Prior to the auction, the historic auction house said it was unable to estimate the price of Beeple’s work.
“We’re replacing our typical Estimate on Request with Estimate Unknown,” Christie’s specialist Noah Davis said in the initial press release. “We’re breaking such new ground with this piece, your guess is as good as ours.”
Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile told Insider that, after selling a Beeple piece for $6.6 million, he thinks Winkelmann is a symbol for the entire NFT movement.
“This will become the art world over time,” Rodriguez-Fraile told Insider. “NFTs are going to become more desirable than a physical piece. They give collectors a closer connection to the artist.”
Winkelmann will also be able to continue to profit off future sales of his piece, as most NFT platforms allow artists to receive at least 10% royalties.