Terry cOx
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In February 2021, a 10-second video by an artist named Beeple sold online for $6.6 million. Around the same time, Christie’s announced that it would be selling a collage of 5,000 “all-digital” works by the Wisconsin-based artist, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann. It was put on a virtual auction block with a starting price of $100 — and on March 11 it sold for a staggering $69 million. 

Beyond the high prices, there was one other fact that observers found fascinating. In exchange for their money, collectors who buy Beeples don’t receive any physical manifestation of the artwork. Not even a framed print. What they do get is an increasingly popular kind of cryptoasset called an NFT — short for non-fungible token. 

Each Beeple piece is paired with a unique NFT — a token attesting that each owner’s version is the real one. “We are in a very unknown territory,” Christie’s contemporary art specialist Noah Davis told Reuters. “In the first 10 minutes of bidding we had more than a hundred bids from 21 bidders and we were at a million dollars.”

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