The buyer of a digital artwork sold for US$69 million was named as a crypto asset investor known by the pseudonym “Metakovan,” auction house Christie’s confirmed on Friday.
“Everydays: The First 5000 Days” — the first virtual Non-Fungible Token (NFT) artwork to be sold at a major auction house — closed at $69,346,250 during an online auction on Thursday.
On Friday, Christie’s announced that Metakovan, founder and funder of Metapurse, the largest NFT fund in the world, was behind the astronomical purchase.
Chinese cryptocurrency creator Justin Sun revealed on Twitter that he was outbid on the artwork, having put down a final effective bid of $60 million, only to be “outbid by another buyer in the last 20 secs by $250k.”
Sun said he had been leading the bidding throughout most of the last 20 minutes of the auction — but his attempt to update his bid failed during the last 30 seconds.
The record-breaking sale catapults the artwork’s creator, Mike Winkelmann, who goes by Beeple, near the summit of the most expensive living artists to date, placing him just below David Hockney and Jeff Koons. Hockney’s painting “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” sold for $90.3 million in 2018, while Koons’ stainless steel sculpture “Rabbit” topped the list at $91.1 million in 2019.
Winkelmann’s collage of 5,000 images that took 13 years to make had a starting bid of just $100, but the high-profile auction drew fevered bidding from over 350 prospective buyers.
Its sale drew heightened attention in the past weeks as more NFT works, including digital art, GIFs and even tweets, have been thrust into the spotlight in what many are calling a digital art boom.
The musician Grimes recently sold a collection of digital artworks for $6.3 million, while Christopher Torres, the creator of the decade-old GIF “Nyan Cat,” was able to cash in on the flying Pop Tart cat animation for almost $600,000.
An NFT is a digital token encrypted with the artist’s signature on the blockchain — a digital ledger that is the backbone of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum — allowing sellers and buyers to verify authenticity and ownership. Virtual art faces unique challenges that physical art does not, as it can be copied and disseminated any number of times on the internet, reducing its value. NFTs ensure that a buyer has the true original directly from the artist. They also allow artists to sell works directly to buyers on their own, which some have asserted will democratize the art market.
“Artists have been using hardware and software to create artwork and distribute it on the internet for the last 20+ years but there was never a real way to truly own and collect it,” said Winkelmann in a press statement following the sale. “With NFTs that has now changed.”
Winkelmann, a graphic designer from Charleston, South Carolina, told CNN in an interview ahead of the sale’s closing that when he began the “Everydays” project in 2007, he had no intention of selling the work. As a freelancer who works on concert visuals for artists like Katy Perry and Deadmau5, and with no gallery representation, he is not the usual blue-chip artist to sell his work for tens of millions at a major auction house. He has nearly 2 million followers on Instagram and his bizarre and often dystopian-tinged pop culture mashups play on the same notes as street artists like KAWS.
“It’s a bit surreal, because (digital imagery) wasn’t really something that I pictured, in my lifetime, being able to sell,” said Winkelmann, ahead of the sale. “So it (has) come out of nowhere. But at the same time, I also really feel like this is going to be the next chapter of art history.”
The sale also comes at a time when auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s are having to rely on virtual auctions and more online bidders in light of the ongoing pandemic. While individual artists can utilize NFTs to break from the traditional art market, so too can the market to drive more sales and tap into the digital art world.
“The last year has been an extraordinary period for the art market, and today’s result is a fitting tribute to the significant digital transformation that has taken place at Christie’s. And just as our business has evolved, so has the way in which art is being made,” said Noah Davis, a specialist in post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s, in a press statement.
“I’m honored to welcome all the of the remarkable new clients, who not only bid with us, but reached out to share their brilliant ideas on how to further the crypto art movement. Beeple’s success is a testament to the exciting possibilities ahead for this nascent marketplace. Today’s result is a clarion call to all digital artists. Your work has value. Keep making it.”
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Visit the city's tiniest art gallery: Five things to do in Saskatoon this weekend – Saskatoon StarPhoenix
In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E.
Whether you’re interested in art, a virtual party, some outdoor activities or cleaning up around the house, there’s a little bit of something for everyone this weekend in Saskatoon.
1. Visit the Free Little Art Gallery
In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E. Designed in the style of community libraries and kitchen boxes, visitors to the gallery can take a piece of art, leave a piece of art, or do both. You can check out some of the artwork on Instagram @Freelittleartgalleryyxe.
2. Hit up The Bassment’s virtual party
Featuring the music and talents of eight Saskatoon bands, The Bassment presents InTune 2021 — a free online party playing from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The shows will be streamed live through the Bassment’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
3. Check out local performers
Watch as some of Saskatoon’s performing artists share their work in Episode 1 of Persephone Theatre’s Open Stage, which was published earlier this month. The episode is available to watch whenever you want at persephonetheatre.org and features Peace Akintade, Kathie Cram, Amanda Trapp, Sketchy Bandits, Carla Orosz and Ellen Froese.
4. Have some family fun
The Fuddruckers Family Fun Centre (2910 8th St. E) is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday, weather permitting. Families can practice their skills on the 18-hole Putt N’ Bounce miniature golf course, reach new heights on The Rock climbing wall or take a swing at the Grand Slam batting cages. More information is available at fudds.ca or by calling 306-477-0808.
5. Drop off your hazardous waste
The City of Saskatoon is holding its first Hazardous Household Waste Drop Off of the year on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Civic Operations Centre (57 Valley Rd.). The drop off is open to Saskatoon residents from residential properties only. Products eligible for drop off include aerosols, automotive fluids, batteries, cleaners, light bulbs, yard chemicals and more. Learn more at saskatoon.ca/hazardouswaste.
The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.
YK ARCC celebrates 10 years by pushing for NWT art gallery – Cabin Radio
Its trailer doubles as one of the NWT’s only art galleries. Now, the Yellowknife Artist-Run Community Centre is turning 10 years old.
The group, YK ARCC for short, formed in 2011 in a downtown Yellowknife church scheduled for demolition. “There was always something going on,” recalled Métis artist Rosalind Mercredi, owner of the city’s Down to Earth Gallery, who was YK ARCC’s first president.
“I think it was so good to be able to have a space where people wanted to work on stuff and, if they had bigger projects they wanted to do, there was a space to do it. It was pretty vibrant times, I would say, for art.”
Though the organization stayed in the church for less than a year, it has brought art and shows to Yellowknife since. Temporary homes have included an apartment above a Vietnamese restaurant and empty spaces in the Centre Square Mall.
Casey Koyczan, a Tłı̨chǫ artist from Yellowknife pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba, held some of his first shows with YK ARCC’s help.
“It really helped to be able to show work within an environment that was conducive to more of a fine arts aesthetic as opposed to … a coffee shop, or a pub, or something like that,” said Koyczan, who was on YK ARCC’s board.
“YK ARCC felt like it was getting to more of a formal-exhibit kind of feel.”
‘We need a territorial gallery’
The group made headlines shortly after opening a mobile art gallery in a trailer. At the beginning of the pandemic, the team took art to residents by accepting reservations through Facebook then driving the gallery to make house calls in different neighbourhoods.
“Because it’s so small, we might be the only gallery in Canada that didn’t have to close,” said longtime board member Sarah Swan. “It has a limited capacity. We knew we could still operate it safely.”
Yet the trailer’s success simultaneously illuminated what YK ARCC’s members believe is a glaring deficiency in the NWT: the absence of a territorial gallery.
The cost of rent makes it difficult for the non-profit to hold on to one space for any length of time. Many of the spaces that are available in Yellowknife don’t work well for art shows.
“We need a territorial gallery,” former board member Dan Korver said.
That doesn’t mean a commercial gallery geared toward profit, he clarified. Instead, Korver wants a space where artists can show their work and engage with an audience “for art’s sake.”
The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is the only large-scale, non-commercial, gallery fitting that bill in the NWT. It hosts two fine art exhibits a year.
“It’s just simply not enough,” said Swan. “There are so many more artists and so much more work out there to show, so many more ideas.”
“We created the mobile gallery in the first place to feel that exhibition gap, but also, we created it to be a piece of agitation in itself. That’s why we called it the Art Gallery of the Northwest Territories.
“It’s really pathetic that our territorial gallery is a trailer. We all joke that if there ever is a real gallery of the Northwest Territories that’s not in a trailer, we’ll happily give the name back.”
Koyczan described obstacles in establishing his career that stemmed directly from the lack of a territorial art gallery.
“Back when I was showing at YK ARCC, it wasn’t recognized by the Canada Arts Council,” he said. “Therefore, when you go to apply for grants and funding … and you provide your CV saying that you showed work at YK ARCC, they check their records and say the show basically didn’t exist because they don’t recognize it as a legitimate gallery.
“I’ve had to work really hard on exporting myself and making artwork that is impactful so that, regardless of where I was located, it would be recognized by people in the south, or around North America, or internationally.
“The NWT needs a contemporary gallery. It’s just holding us back, not having that space.”
‘No GNWT mandate’ for a gallery
In a written statement to Cabin Radio, the territorial Department of Education, Culture, and Employment said it has no plan to create a territorial gallery.
The department said it “does not have a mandate to create physical infrastructure for the arts.”
“However,” the response continued, “the GNWT would be happy to work with regional organizations to see how the GNWT can support their plans.”
Korver believes government involvement in creating an artist-run centre or non-commercial gallery should be limited to provision of funding, so any gallery can remain community-driven and independent.
“We need that physical space, but how do you run it?” he wondered. “Is it better to just provide a grassroots organization – or organizations, maybe there shouldn’t just be one – with stable funding so they can provide those spaces and run those spaces?”
More spaces that can host art are on the way.
Makerspace YK moved into the old After 8 pub this January and is planning workshops and exhibits. The City of Yellowknife expects to open a visitor centre in the Centre Square Mall that would include art displays.
Meanwhile, the territorial government is set to release its updated NWT Arts Strategy this June. The previous territorial arts strategy, released in 2004, had identified a need for more arts spaces.
As a gallery owner, Mercredi said she is curious to see how the strategy is implemented.
“You can make a strategy but if the plan doesn’t have an implementation idea behind it, then really just sits,” she said. “How do you implement it when most of the arts organizations don’t have enough infrastructure or people to put those things together?”
Swan said YK ARCC will continue to run its mobile gallery while celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Members have applied for funding to run a series of “emerging curator workshops.”
“Art is our passion,” Swan said. “I think there’s just this drive to share.
“Because we know how good art can be, or how amazing and fully developed it can be, we want to fight for that. We want to try to grow the art community in Yellowknife.”
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