The digital artist who helped launch the non-fungible token craze earlier this year, Beeple, has sold his first physical artwork and accompanying NFT for US$28.9 million at a live Christie’s auction in New York on Tuesday night.

Fast facts

  • Beeple’s first physical work “Human One” is a seven-foot-tall box with LED screens on each side showing a stylized astronaut walking through random fantastic environments drawn from a collection of Beeple’s own creations. It is designed to be changed and updated constantly over the course of Beeple’s life in response to current events, to act as Christie’s described in a statement as an “eternally contemporary work of art.”
  • The piece was only expected to fetch US$15 million, but the winning bid to Swiss venture capitalist Ryan Zurrer overshot that by US$10 million, with additional hammer fees. Zurrer thanked Beeple on Twitter after the sale for his “visionary innovation, amazing new energy and hilarious positive vibes that you’ve brought to both crypto and art.”
  • Publicity from the record-breaking sale of Beeple’s piece Everydays: the First 5000 Days helped launch the NFT craze when it sold for US$69 million in March this year. The eventual owner of the piece sparked controversy over the sale by further tokenizing ownership of the artwork across 1.6 million B.20 tokens which were then sold once they skyrocketed in value after the sale. The move sparked debate about the nature of value NFTs hold and the relationship to artificial scarcity, which was compounded by the fact Beeple himself owned 2% of those tokens.
  • In a sign of how NFTs are becoming increasingly mainstream, Beeple is also scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this week.