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Cryptocurrency Brings To Life The Millionaire Digital Art Market | Voice Of America

The sale for the record number of a digital artwork in March is part of a pressing trend to invest in things that weren’t previously marketable, like video games and even tweets. Despite taking place online, the final moments of a recent Christie’s art auction were dramatic. A work of art had just sold for almost $ 70 million. Even the artist, Mike Winkelmann, who goes by the stage name Beeple, was stunned. “It’s an unfathomable number to be honest. It’s crazy,” he said. This is the third highest amount ever paid for a work by a living artist, and even more extraordinary, the work is digital with no actual physical presence beyond the digital archive. Detail of the collage ‘Every day: the first 5,000 days’, by the digital artist Beeple. The novelty The buyer in these cases will not receive a sculpture, or a painting, not even a copy. You will receive a digital token (or digital voucher) known as an NFT. If bitcoin was hailed as the digital answer to currencies, NFTs are now considered the digital answer to collectibles. But there are many skeptics who believe that it is a new bubble about to burst. Over the years, Beeple has shared these images freely on social media. So how does a work of art go from being free to being worth millions overnight? What is an NFT? NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. It is the secret ingredient and unlike other forms of cryptocurrencies, each NFT is unique. Attaching an NFT to an artwork is one way to authenticate it with a digital signature. Detail of the collage ‘Every Day: The First 5,000 Days, by digital artist Beeple. “The hardest thing about being a digital artist has always been trying to get people to endorse a unique work of art that exists only as a digital file,” he said. in an interview via Skype with the Voice of America to artist Jonathan Monaghan. Last year, Monaghan was approached by the NFT Art Marketplace Foundation to unite its portfolio of creators. “When I started this in October, I was pretty quiet, there were only a dozen artists doing this. It’s incomprehensible how much this has broken out in the last two months,” he said. NFTs have been around for about three years and are now used to sell everything. Great entrepreneurs in this field of NFT tend to be cryptocurrency experts. Both the winner and the next highest bidder in the Beeple auction own crypto-related businesses. And although the auction was held by the old world auction house Christie’s, the artwork was paid for using the cryptocurrency Ether. How do they work? Traditional works of art, such as paintings and sculptures, are valuable because they are unique. But digital files can easily be duplicated over and over again. Each time it is duplicated, the author is entitled to a specified percentage of that sale. Collage detail ‘Every Day: The Last 5,000 Days’ by digital artist Beeple.With NFTs, art can be tokenized to create a digital certificate of ownership that can be bought and sold. As with cryptocurrencies, a record of who owns what is stored in a shared ledger such as the blockchain. Advantages Vs. Disadvantages Like the rest of the rapidly evolving crypto world, NFTs present risks for both artists and collectors, warns investigative journalist Amy Castor. “An NFT doesn’t really give you anything, it’s just a token. And the only value of that is speculative. That is, what someone else is willing to pay you for it,” he told VOA via Skype. “What happens is that when you get all this attention and excitement around NFT, it is that more real money is funneled into the cryptocurrency system. So people who have had those cryptocurrencies for a while can withdraw it,” he says. For Monaghan, who says he has researched the world of cryptocurrencies, the potential benefits of using NFT outweigh the risks. “Digital art is finally getting the recognition it deserves and there are many important artistic voices now being heard that were previously unsupported,” says Monaghan. * Reported by Matt Dibble for VOA News. Connect with the Voice of America! Subscribe to our YouTube channel and activate notifications; or, follow us on social networks: Facebook, Twitter

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