This month, the mysterious buyer paid $ 69.3 million for a digital collage, an auction that heralds as a milestone in the art world, the third highest price ever paid for a living artist.
The buyer, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur using the pseudonym MetaKovan, may have received financial benefits from the sale. Months before the Christie’s auction house was auctioned off, MetaKovan bought other works by the artist, divided their property into blockchain-based “symbols” and sold them to the public, according to MetaKovan’s cryptocurrency fund blog.
As the number of new job applications increased, the value of those tokens increased. On March 11, the day MetaKovan won Christie’s auction, the value of its shares in the art symbols rose by about $ 51 million, according to Crypto data on CoinMarketCap’s historical stock price and its share description on its investment fund website.
The auctioned artwork, a collection of hundreds of smaller works by South Carolina artist Beeple, has been sold as a fun sign or NFT that uses the same technology as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin on a digital file. to create a certificate of ownership. which cannot be copied or counterfeited. Christie’s called the sale a “digital art collection point”, with many citing the sale as a key moment in moving to a core blockchain technology network.
Legal experts say it is not clear that MetaKoven did anything wrong. It is not against the law for someone to buy, resell, or stimulate the value of digital assets unless they plan to shed their share for quick financial gain, says Carol Goffort, a law professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, who specializes in cryptocurrency regulation.
But the financial interests of the auctioneer show that the recent frenzy over digital art could be a sign of an artistic revolution rather than a gold rush into highly speculative blockchain technology.
“It could be argued that it was cash,” said Paul Sibenik, a CipherBlade investigator who specializes in cryptocurrency cryptocurrency fraud. He sees no evidence of possible fraud. “If you found value in having that asset, you might not try to sell it in parts to everyone who wanted a part of it,” said Sibenik.
A MetaKovan spokesman did not return a request for comment. In blog posts and podcast interviews, the entrepreneur says he intends to keep his stake in Beeple Art for a long time.
MetaKovan says it bought 20 Beeple works of art for $ 2.2 million in December and decided to make the shares of the collection available to the public through a digital sign that resembles the company’s stock. He created 10 million tokens called B.20, making 25% of them available to the public, keeping about 50% for himself, according to a description of how the token from the MetaKovan investment fund would work.
According to the fund, the rest he set aside for “friends”, “future partners” և Beeple. “For us, the artist could have taken care of more than the sales revenue, so Beeple gets a 2% discount.”
Before becoming the third most valuable living artist, Beeple, whose real name was Mike Winkelmann, was best known for his disrespectful and grotesque paintings of his political and cultural figures, such as Mickey Mouse or former President Donald Trump. Most of his work appears on Instagram, where he has almost 2 million followers. He also helped design concert images for musicians such as Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.
Winkelmann did not immediately comment.
Winkelman is insightful when it comes to NFT. In addition to the collection bought by MetaKovan in December, the artist also sold some of his work for $ 1 a piece on NFT retail sites, starting a crazy mess that caused a lot of noise and headlines.
The value of Beeple-based B.20 tokens has risen since MetaKovan first made them available in January, according to CoinMarketCap. From the start of Christie’s auction on February 25 until the auction closed on March 11, the price of one B.20 mark rose from $ 2.17 to $ 18.57.
The value of MetaKovan’s share in B.20 – about 5 million tokens, according to his blog, increased by about $ 51 million during that period. Beeple’s personal stake in B.20 has grown by about $ 2 million.
Christie’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
While common ownership of works of art can diminish the social prestige that comes with a private art collection, it has the advantage of being more commercial, says Will Kong, an associate professor of finance at Cornell University. “Think about how traditional art is hard to sell,” he said. “It is solved after the property is easily divided and sold.”
Investors who jumped to B.20 և helped raise the price include cryptocurrency lovers, traditional art collectors սկս some novice investors who have only been interested in digital art in recent weeks. In an interview with The Washington Post, several people who received the B.20 mark said they believed they were entering the first floor of a new type of digital art business.
“I invested because I wanted to make money, but I also want to be a part of the future of contemporary art,” said Cole Tobias, who recently bought a $ 783 B.20 mark.
Tobias, a 24-year-old accountant in New York, said he started buying and selling basketball stars’ videos earlier this year on the NBA Top Shots digital auction site. He became interested in digital art; he liked the fact that fractional property could afford to buy a piece of art that he could not otherwise afford.
As the auction escalated, more people bought B.20 to get some action.
A Berlin-based translator named Nez Screen says he invested in B.20, in part because he thought Christie’s auction would add value to other Beeple works of art.
“B.20 seemed exciting because of Christie’s upcoming auction, it seemed like short-term speculation worth trying,” he told The Post in a personal Discord post. “So I made my decision as a manipulation based mainly on financial interests.”
As the auction approached, Beeple bid prices rose rapidly. MetaKovan was locked in a competitive war with other people who wanted the artwork. One of them, cryptocurrency entrepreneur Just Astin Sun, said that in the last 30 seconds of the auction he tried to increase his bid, but the site froze and did not allow himself. He says he does not know MetaKovan personally և does not know B.20.
“This is, in fact, a new era of art, participating in this auction is creating a kind of history,” Sun said in an interview.
The investor, who bought some B.20s because of the excitement around Christie’s auction, said he thought the symbol was still undervalued.
“Now I think that each of the 20 pieces is estimated at 7-8 million pieces, which was calculated with a symbolic prize. It seems to be low, ”he said. “It’s a game of optics, it’s all about what to believe.”