The blockchain technology behind Bitcoin and other digital currencies is shaking up the art world as well as financial markets. Sales of "non-fungible tokens"—artworks or other pieces of digital property authenticated as unique originals via blockchain—are exploding, with a 10-second artwork by artist Beeple recently selling for a record $6.6 million, reports Reuters. The video, which shows people walking by what appears to be the graffiti-covered body of an enormous Donald Trump, was bought by art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile in October for $67,000. He resold it last week for almost 100 times as much. The 32-year-old tells Bloomberg that he thought it would take longer to rise in value, but it was still "a fantastic deal for the buyer."
"You can go in the Louvre and take a picture of the Mona Lisa and you can have it there, but it doesn’t have any value because it doesn’t have the provenance or the history of the work,” the Miami-based collector says. "The reality here is that this is very, very valuable because of who is behind it." Bloomberg notes that the boom in digital art has a precedent in the photography market. Beeple, real name Mike Winkelmann, is a digital artist who has been creating a drawing a day for 13 years. A two-week auction of his work started at Christie's last week. He tells the New York Times that he only started looking into NFTs in mid-October. As with many other NFTs, the blockchain that authenticates his work also includes a requirement that he gets 10% of the price every time it is resold. "When you buy the artwork, you're sort of entering into a relationship with me," he says. (Read more blockchain stories.)