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NFTs: A short term craze or new reality?

NFTs are the last gig in the art business, but is it sustainable model of it?

29.Mar.21 12:58 PM
By Abigail Richards
Photo NFT Auction


NFTs: A short term craze or new reality?
A digital artwork by Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) was auctioned this month for 69 million dollars (about 58 million euros). It seems absurd at first glance, such a huge amount of money for a work that only exists virtually and can be downloaded by anyone. But it means more than just a mega amount. Because technology allows ownership and value to be attributed to works, the digital art world is maturing in one fell swoop.

Beeple's work, titled The First 5000 Days, was auctioned off by Christie's. Beeple made a digital work every day for more than thirteen years, which are bundled in the first 5000 Days. Remarkable, because it was the first time that the auction house had a digital work under the hammer. This was a signal to the outside world. Director of the Amsterdam NXT Museum for new media art, Merel Van Helsdingen, calls it an extension from the traditional art world to digital art. "It is a stamp of approval, the art world shows that it is now taking this form of art seriously."

By digital art we mean works made with the help of digital technology. It goes beyond images, this form of art can also move and contain audio.

Although (digital) art has been traded online for a long time, the way that is now happening is new. This is done with so-called non-fungible tokens (NFTS), a non-replaceable token. The NFTS are unique pieces of code on the internet, to which a digital work is linked. The technique behind this is similar to that of bitcoin. This way, NFTs are stored around the world and everyone can see how they are traded and who owns them.

According to Van Helsdingen, this makes the art dealership completely transparent. "When you used to go to an auction house, you'd bring a consultant. This expert gave background on certain works and artists and made an assessment of the value. Now you can just tell who the owner is, when a work was sold, who bought it and for how much money."

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