Beeple sells most expensive NFT ever for $69.3 million

CNBC’s Robert Frank reports on the most expensive NFT ever sold. Beeple’s art sold for $69 million in a Christie’s auction. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO:

A non-fungible token by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for over $60 million, making it the most expensive NFT ever sold at auction.

The final sale price could shift higher as final bids are processed and auction fees are added, which could bring the total to more than $69 million. But the sale capped two weeks of frenzied online bidding and ushers in a new era in collectibles, where prices for blockchain-based digital images now rival prices paid for Picassos and Monets. While the future of NFT prices and their longer-term role in the art world remains an open question, and many see it as a speculative fad, the eight-figure price for the Beeple has caused the art world to suddenly take notice.

“As soon as I saw it, I saw it as this massive massive potential for this as a platform for digital ownership of a bunch of different things, not just art,” the artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, told CNBC. “Moving forward, I think this will be seen an alternate form of asset class.”

The record-breaking work, called “The First 5,000 days” was the first ever to sell at a major auction house.

In 2007, Winkelmann set out to post a new work of digital art every day for the rest of his life and hasn’t missed a single day. The first 5,000 of those works, which he calls “Everydays,” were compiled to form “The First 5,000 days.”

NFTs, which are any digital assets with ownership recorded on a blockchain, have become a $400 million market — much of that in the past month. Jack Dorsey turned the first-ever tweet from 2006 into an NFT that currently has a top bid of $2.5 million. NBA Top Shots, which are NFTs of NBA highlight videos, have exploded in popularity, with sales topping $200 million and a LeBron James video selling for $208,000. Grimes, the musician and artist, has sold more than $6 million in videos and music.

Until the Christie’s sale, the most expensive NFT ever sold was a Beeple work that was flipped by its owner for $6.6 million.

It’s unclear whether major art auction houses will follow. Sotheby’s said it hasn’t made any announcements about future NFT sales and Phillips said it doesn’t have “any NFT news to share” at the moment.

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