Mike Winkelmann is used to being stolen from. Before he became Beeple, the world’s third most-expensive living artist with the $69.3 million sale of Everydays: The First 5000 Days in 2021, he was a run-of-the-mill digital artist, picking up freelance gigs from musicians and video game studios while building a social media following by posting his artwork incessantly.
Whereas fame and fortune in the art world come from restricting access to an elite few, making it as a digital creator is about giving away as much of yourself as possible. For free, all the time.
“My attitude’s always been, as soon as I post something on the internet, that’s out there,” Winkelmann said. “The internet is an organism. It just eats things and poops them out in new ways, and trying to police that is futile. People take my stuff and upload it and profit from it. They get all the engagements and clicks and whatnot. But whatever.”
Winkelmann leveraged his two million followers and became the face of NFTs. In the process, he…