Christie’s auctions HUMAN ONE by NFT artist Beeple for $29m

By Raffaele Redi

The artwork had gone under the hammer with an estimated price of $10m-$12m.

HUMAN ONE digital artwork by NFT artist Beeple                                 
HUMAN ONE, the first hybrid physical and digital artwork by NFT artist Beeple went under the hammer at Christie’s – Photo: Christie’s

Christie’s has brought down the hammer on HUMAN ONE for $28.9m (£21.4m). The first piece of hybrid physical and digital artwork by non-fungible token (NFT) artist Beeple was purchased online by a bidder based in Switzerland.

The auction followed on from the sale of Beeple’s EVERYDAY: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, auctioned off by the British house in March for a record $69m, more than double the price achieved by HUMAN ONE.

The EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS sale marked the first time that a purely digital NFT-based work of art had been offered by a major auction house, signifying an important milestone in the development of the digital art market. Bidding at that time opened at just $100.

Artwork licensed not sold

The piece, which went under the hammer with an estimate of $10m-$12m, comprised a one-of-one NFT and “kinetic video structure physical element”, but did not include outright ownership of the artwork itself; instead, according to Christie’s post-lot text, the successful bidder gained a non-exclusive, perpetual license to view the artwork through either the NFT and/or the physical element.

The physical element will be available for display in museums, galleries, and other venues for one year following the sale, and was designed to continuously display the artwork.

The artist, real name Michael Joseph Winkelmann, will maintain remote access to the physical element to ensure its proper functionality and to periodically update the displayed artwork.

The holder of the NFT or the physical element may transfer the NFT or the physical element to a third party, but this will immediately terminate its license to the artwork.

Across the two weeks of the pre-sale exhibition, more than 1,600 visitors came into the galleries, and the artist made a personal appearance at Christie’s to engage with visitors and talk about his work.

Not the same destiny for Arcadia and Banksy

On the other hand, Arcadia, the other NFT artwork in Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale, failed to receive the same attention.

The work, a narrated, graphic film that journeys through the collective 21st-century existential crisis, was minted in October 2021 on Aorist.Art and powered on the Algorand Blockchain, and sold for just $525,000.

The artwork was created and signed by the award-winning artist Andrés Reisinger, the grammy-winning musician RAC and the internationally-bestselling poet Arch Hades.

Finally, the painting Sunflowers from Petrol Station by Banksy, a reimagining of Vincent Van Gogh’s celebrated Sunflowers, and described as “transforming the Dutch master’s radiant yellow blooms into a cluster of dried, wilted stems”, sold at the lower end of its $12m-$18m estimate for $14.5m.

Further reading: Christie’s aggregate global NFT sale totals over $100m

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