The explosive arrival of the nonfungible token is giving contemporary art’s elders the shivers
Money is a great way to concentrate human attention. As I write, a large jpeg, albeit one made up of 5,000 individual jpegs, has been auctioned by Christie’s for $69,346,250. This is EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS (2007–20), by videomaker, illustrator and, now, feted artist Beeple – otherwise known as Mike Winkelmann. Winkelmann first shot to fame (or at least to mainstream artworld attention, since he had many nonartworld fans and Instagram followers already) following the auction of a collection of his ‘everydays’ – surrealistic, sometimes comic, often boorishly zeitgeisty CGI images that Winkelmann has been producing and posting once a day, every day, since 1 May 2007 at an online auction last December. Run through the online platform Nifty, Beeple’s sale rang up $3.5 million. But now that he’s hit the upper echelons of art retail, that seems like peanuts.