One year on from the sale of the Beeple artwork, Dr Paul Dylan-Ennis of UCD looks at how non-fungible tokens have become a digital extension for collectors and much more.
One year ago, an artwork was sold for $69m by the prestigious auction house Christie’s. This was no lost Matisse or rarely seen Van Gogh. Instead, it was a composite collection of digital art by the then relatively unknown artist Beeple.
What makes this piece, Everydays: the First 5000 Days, truly remarkable, is that it was sold as a non-fungible token (NFT). In the year since that sale, NFTs have gone from a relatively obscure tech-world phenomenon to the mainstream.
NFTs are tokens that exist on a secure record-keeping system called a blockchain. These tokens are akin to certificates of ownership a gallery might give to an art collector, but for digital items.