Mike Winkelmann, AKA Beeple, just sold an NFT for $69 million at Christie’s. He’s one of the top three most valuable living artists.  Prior to NFT’s, the most he sold a print for was $100.

What did that $69 million buy?

A digital file.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique files that live on a blockchain and are able to verify ownership of a work of digital art. Buyers typically get limited rights to display the digital artwork they represent, but in many ways, they’re just buying bragging rights and an asset they may be able to resell later. – The Verge  (Read full article here.  An eye opening read.)

As Mikes says, it’s the next chapter of art history.

I’ve been fascinated by the rise of crypto-currency, who is playing along and how it is slowly entering the culture.  Bitcoin.  Ethereum.  Marble Cards.  CryptoKitties.  It’s getting wild out there in the digital world and my studio is beginning to feel like the Dark Ages. Encaustic painting puts me even further in the past!

Naturally I began to think about the “great” artists who have changed the course of an art form.  Whether painting, sculpture, music, cooking, singing, there are compelling forces that lift their work from the masses for the public to take notice.  Are we there with digital goods?

Could someone try to sell your art as an NFT? 

Yes they can; not the real product but the image file.  Is this something to worry about?  I don’t think so.  This MIT article describes how a few artists are working within this system and some even consider it a lifeline.

I don’t think I’ll be entering the NFT world though the creation of this new “asset” has me thinking about the makings of a masterpiece and why some paintings are so valuable.  Scarcity, deviation from the norm, scale, use of materials are factors I can think about in my work.

Masterpiece in waiting…



The resources below helped me understand NFT’s, masterpieces and what it means in our digital culture.

  • What do we mean when we call an artwork a MASTERPIECE? Who decides which art becomes one? And what artists make them? PBS What Makes a Masterpiece? – a 12 minute video from PBS.  Banana included.
  • This short BBC article explains what an NFT is and how it works.
  • Why are some paintings so valuable?  Seth Godin explains how we are remaking our culture around digital goods in his blog post Celebrity Art.