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Crypto art - statistics & facts

Crypto art refers to digital artworks whose ownership can be authenticated, just like with physical art. Usually, the authenticity of physical artworks can be proved in different ways, for example, by examining the artist’s signature or receiving authentication certificates. In the case of crypto art, different methods must be used. The authentication and proof of ownership of digital files relies primarily on non-fungible tokens (NTFs), which are unique digital assets that are stored in blockchain. NFTs cannot be reproduced and can represent any type of digital format such as GIF, JPEG, and MP3. They are not mutually interchangeable, but it is possible to buy them with cryptocurrencies. Once a digital artwork is uploaded on a blockchain in the form of NFT, it will become a unique piece of art, as it will always be possible to determine the original file even if its copies are shared indefinitely on the web.

Beeple: the first major auction of crypto art

On February 25, 2021, Christie’s – one of the leading auction houses worldwide in terms of fine art revenue – promoted an online auction for a single lot, a non-fungible token-based artwork by American artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple. It was the first time that a major auction house put on sale an NFT digital artwork and accepted cryptocurrency for the sale.

The piece, a digital collage named “Everydays: The First 5000 Days”, attracted 33 potential buyers. When looking at the age of the bidders, the majority were Millenials, with only three percent of bidders coming from the Baby Boomer generation. Meanwhile, 55 percent of bidders were based in the Americas. On March 11, 2021, the lot was ultimately sold for the astonishing price of 69.3 million U.S. dollars, making it the most expensive artwork sold online to date. Not only that, but it was also the third-highest auction price for a living artist’s work, behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney. The buyer, only known by the pseudonym of Metakovan, was a Singapore-based investor and co-founder of the crypto fund Metapurse.

The art segment in the non-fungible token market

In 2020, the art segment played an important role within the non-fungible token (NFT) market. In that year, this sector reported the second-highest sales revenue of the NFT market. Overall, NFTs sold as artworks generated roughly 12.9 million U.S. dollars in 2020. Meanwhile, when considering the sales volume of the non-fungible token (NFT) market, the art segment only accounted for about five percent of all units sold. Outside of the NFT market, the online contemporary art market has grown significantly in recent times. In the first half of 2020, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced auction houses to find alternatives to in-person events, the online auction revenue from contemporary art sales worldwide skyrocketed, roughly doubling the revenue reported in 2019.

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