Change doesn’t come fast, or often, to institutions like Christie’s, a British auction house founded in 1766 — predating American independence. But it has come all at once to Christie’s, which is accepting cryptocurrency for the first time for its first purely digital artwork.

“Christie’s has never offered a new media artwork of this scale or importance before,” Noah Davis, specialist in Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie’s in New York, said in a release. “Acquiring Beeple’s work is a unique opportunity to own an entry in the blockchain itself created by one of the world’s leading digital artists.”


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The auction house is accepting payment in the cryptocurrency Ether, hosted on the open-source blockchain Ethereum, via a digital wallet transfer — although not for the buyer’s premium (the fee you pay for winning the bid, in addition to the bid).

“I almost look at it now like I’m a political cartoonist,” Mike Winkelmann, known online as Beeple, said about the work, which is a compilation of digital pieces — one created each day for 5,000 days. “Except instead of doing sketches, I’m using the most advanced 3D tools to make comments on current events, almost in real-time.”

Beeple, who has created digital artwork for everyone from Ariana Grande to deadmau5, has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, where he posted the first installation in the series on May 1, 2007, a picture of his Uncle Jim, nicknamed Uber Jay. 


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“I probably would have spent more time on this, had I known it would eventually be part of a piece auctioned by Christie’s,” he told the auction house. 

There’s another from the morning his first child was born, a bad bout of food poisoning and even one inspired by the fly that landed on former vice president Mike Pence’s head during a debate last year. 

The winning bidder won’t be taking it home with them, at least not in the traditional way. The digital work will be sent using blockchain technology, which will use a non-fungible token encrypted with the artist’s unforgeable signature — a unique identifier for the original. The starting bid is at $100, but if you don’t have the cryptocurrency to afford the work, you can still see it online, with the rest of the plebeians. 


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