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Beeple’s US$69 million NFT art sale: What brands can learn about pricing luxury goods beyond all expectations from this once-in-a-lifetime Christie’s auction

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Digital artwork Everydays: The First 5000 Days sold for an incredible US$69 million (S$92.93 million), but was only listed by Christie’s for US$1,000 (S$1,347) – was it all a stunt?

When Christie’s sold one of the most expensive artworks of all time by a living artist for US$69.3 million (S$92.93 million), many could not believe the outcome – including, apparently, the artist who created it and the auction house that sold it.

Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days, a virtual collection of 5,000 images, was listed at just US$1,000 (S$1,347) for the initial bid. Never before has a piece of art exploded in value by nearly 7,000 times in a matter of minutes – a sure sign that no one reckoned with the value of the lot going under the hammer.

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Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5,000 Days was auctioned off for US$69.3 million (S$92.93 million) on 11 March 2021, positioning the artist among the top three most valuable living artists, according to Christie’s

Parking accusations that the whole thing was a publicity stunt riding off the sudden explosion of interest in the billion-dollar NFT art craze, many observers of the traditional art world are still puzzled over why someone would pay so much money for a digital piece of art.

Typically, we might assume that producing expensive art is a process of sacrifice by the artist, who slaves in a dark studio over many weeks or months to gift the world a unique expression of their individual genius on canvas. In many cases, it is. But there are also thousands of artists all over the world that are (more?) talented and, at best, their art sells for a three-figure sum. Most never become famous or sought after. Hence, effort and talent – manifested in the “product” – are not the main drivers of value here.

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Part of a detail shot from Beeple’s Everydays: the First 5000 Days digital collage.