Damien Hirst Joins NFT Art Sales Trend After $ 69 Million Beeple Auction
British artist Damien Hirst plans to jump on the NFT bandwagon, with a goal of selling artwork later this year with the same technology used by American artist Beeple for a work he sold this week by Christie’s for $ 69.3 million.
Hirst, known for works such as a diamond encrusted skull, revealed details of the ‘secret art project’ which ‘challenges the concept of value through money and art’. At the same time, it announced that it is closing a separate $ 22.4 million online sale of Japanese cherry blossom prints.
The new sale is expected to launch later this year with London-based art publisher Heni Editions. Called “The Currency”, it will be based on 10,000 works of art on paper, produced five years ago and kept in a safe.
The Beeple collage “Everyday: The First 5000 Days” – artist real name is Mike Winkelmann – was a unique composite jpeg file of digital images sketched every day for over 13 years. The auctions started on February 25 at just $ 100.
Christie’s revealed the buyer’s identity on Friday as “Metakovan”, a pseudonym of the founder of Metapurse, an NFT fund. Metakovan said in a statement, “When you think of high value NFTs, this one will be pretty hard to beat.”
Similar to Beeple’s work, the artwork in “The Currency” will also exist as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), a term for a digital certificate of authenticity. “Over the past three years, the project has expanded to blockchain and NFTs,” Hirst said.
The move would make Hirst, 55, the best-known artist for delving into the world of digital art, NFTs, and cryptocurrency. “The whole project is a work of art, and anyone who purchases ‘The Currency’ will participate in this work. It’s not just about owning it, ”Hirst said.
More than 4,000 shoppers gathered to purchase the Japanese flower prints, according to organizer Heni Editions, during a six-day online sale that ended on March 3. “I never imagined I could sell so many,” Hirst said.
Joe Hage, founder and owner of Heni Editions, said the order of 7,481 prints, based on a set of eight originals, was “more than double” their expectations. Each draw was priced at $ 3,000.
Buyers can pay online by credit or debit card, or using bitcoin or Ether cryptocurrencies. The publisher said that a “significant” proportion of buyers, although less than half, buy using cryptocurrencies. Ether was more popular than bitcoin.
Like their assess has exploded in recent months, cryptocurrency payments have moved rapidly from the fringe of the art world to the mainstream. The Beeple sale was also the first time Christie’s offered to accept payment in cryptocurrency.
Fine art prints are typically sold in limited editions of 50, 100 or more, often in galleries or online. Instead, the Hirst flower print sale placed no cap on the number that would be made available, but buyers could purchase a maximum of one of each of the eight prints. The company has 12 weeks to produce and deliver the hand-signed works.
Hirst has regularly broken with art market conventions, most notably bypassing the traditional gallery-selling circuit in 2008 to sell new works directly to the public in a single-artist auction at Sotheby’s. The sale brought in £ 201million including auction costs.
But the values of his large-scale works have often failed to maintain the heights reached after 2000. He has been criticized for overproducing his work, having put hundreds of his “point” canvases on the market.
The commercially appealing flower prints are a world away from Hirst’s more well-known conceptual work, which features a shark preserved in formaldehyde and a cow’s head infested with flies. The most prominent of the Young British Artists (YBA), he won the Turner Prize in 1995, and briefly became the world’s most expensive artist in 2007, when ‘Lullaby Spring’, a 3m medicine cabinet wide containing 6,000 hand-painted tablets, was sold for $ 19 million.