The musician and artist Grimes has sold a collection of digital artworks for almost $6 million (£4.3m) in a high-profile endorsement of the craze for ‘non-fungible tokens’ (NFT).
The growing market for cryptoart is making creators millionaires overnight and Grimes, the girlfriend of Elon Musk, announced the auction on Twitter only a day before the collection went on sale.
The total of 10 artworks, produced in collaboration with the artist’s brother Mac Boucher, depict scenes such as a petulant baby in space orbiting Mars and flying pigs.
Two short video pieces called Earth and Mars were made available as large editions at a fixed price of $7,500 (£5,400). The two pieces sold about 300 copies each in the 48 hours they were on sale.
All the pieces from the collection branded ‘WarNymph Collection Vol 1’ sold in less than 20 minutes and some digital artworks were accompanied by exclusive unreleased music by the artist herself.
Despite making millions off of her work, with the highest-selling piece nearing $389,000 (£281,170), those who purchased pieces, will never physically be able to touch or display them in their homes.
Non-fungible tokens means that the artwork is purely a digital asset with no physical ownership meaning that in the physical sense, the art does not technically exist.
The buyers know they own the authentic version of the work, even if it is copied or shared online by others and their NFTs act as a digital certificate.
They can also place the works in a digital frame that connects to the internet, print it out or display it at virtual galleries such as a Cryptovoxel.
Brendan Dawes, an artist based in Southport commented on the concept: “There is this idea that digital things are worthless because you can’t hold them, but you do own that original piece.
“It doesn’t matter that it can be replicated.”
The 54-year-old artist, whose latest work sold for around $37,000 (£26,744) added that his work has been transformed by NFT sales. He said: “I’ve made in months what I would normally make in two years. Tens of thousands of pounds.”
Digital art is more difficult to own than traditional art and this way, artists can sell their original works and establish more value to NFT pieces.
Scottish artist Trevor Jones has become one of the highest-earning figures in cryptoart, with a picture of Batman selling for more than $468,000 (£338,270).
He said: “The work I make now is definitely the most expensive I’ve ever sold.
“I create all my physical paintings with the intent to digitise them in some way to offer as NFTs.”
Grimes said a percentage of the proceeds from her sales will go to carbon180, a non-government organisation dedicated to reducing carbon emissions.
Since the increasing popularity of NFT artwork, many believe that this could be the future of art and that artists should start adapting to this new method.