A JPEG Has Sold For $69 Million As NFTs Become The Latest Cryptocurrency Craze

Just like the financial world found itself disrupted by online traders organizing on Reddit to force a surge on GameStop stocks, the art world is having its own technology disruption after a JPEG image sold for $69 million on Thursday.

The piece, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” by digital artist Beeple, is a “non-fungible token” or NFT that scored a multi-million dollar sale price after being auctioned off by Christie’s. The piece went through two weeks of bidding, and when it ended on its astronomical price, it became the “third-highest auction price for a work by a living artist.” Beeple’s reaction on Twitter pretty much matched the rest of the world.

As for what the heck is a NTF, here’s a brief explainer via Variety:

In simplified terms, an NFT provides a method of authentication for piece of digital content, based on blockchain technology. It certifies and tracks the ownership of a unique digital asset. In essence, the owner of the NFT gets bragging rights to an “original” version of a digital item… even though that piece of digital content can be reproduced and viewed millions of times over by others.

In a nutshell, think of it as buying an “original print” of a painting, only the painting is the original file for the digital image. And if that sounds like the makings of a very volatile and risky investment, it is. According to The New York Times, NFTs had a brief heyday back in 2017 before the market for them crashed. However, they’ve since come roaring back in recent weeks thanks to Elon Musk’s Tesla company making a $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin. Somehow, it always comes back to Elon.

(Via Variety, The New York Times)