CRYPTOPUNKS! The $11.7mil NFT
CryptoPunks are a set of 10,000 pixel art figures created by Larva Labs in 2017. The one sold by Sotheby's - "CryptoPunk #7523" - is of the coveted alien variety with blue-green skin and wears a medical mask.
The work is in the form of an NFT - meaning it is authenticated by the blockchain, which certifies its originality and ownership. The NFT is sent to the buyer's cryptocurrency wallet; no physical artwork changes hands.
"CryptoPunk #7523" sold for $11,754,000 as part of Sotheby's online auction "Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale," which raised a total of $17.1 million for works by 27 digital artists.
It was bought by Israeli entrepreneur Shalom Meckenzie, who is the largest shareholder in digital sports company DraftKings, according to Sotheby's.
Michael Bouhanna, Contemporary Art Specialist at Sotheby's, said the sale demonstrates the continued strong demand for NFTs.
"We look forward to continuing to explore new and interesting avenues in the presentation of these cutting-edge works."
Anyone can view the artworks the NFTs represent, but only the buyer has the official status of being the owner.
SOTHEBY'S IN THE METAVERSE
Although it was an online auction, the works were shown on screens at Sotheby's exhibitions in New York, London and Hong Kong.
Sotheby's also opened its first-ever virtual gallery: a replica of its real building on New Bond Street in London, in the online virtual world Decentraland.
Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual world where users can walk around with friends, visit buildings, go to events and display their NFT art collections.
"To those who say, "yes, but you can't hang them on the wall," this is where virtual social worlds like Decentraland come in," said Dave Carr, a spokesperson for Decentraland Foundation.
"Virtual worlds are the natural home of digital art NFTs."
NFTs exploded in popularity in February and March. An NFT artwork fetched $69.3 million at Christie's, making it the first sale of an artwork without a physical form by a major auction house.
The first NFT auction at Sotheby's took place in April, with digital works by the artist known as "Pak" fetching $16.8 million.
"Quantum" by Kevin McCoy, a simple geometric animation also featured in Thursday's auction, sold for $1.47 million. According to Sotheby's, it was the first NFT ever made, having been "minted" in 2014. A work by Pak also sold for $528,200.
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