NFT Artists Receive First Major Test Since Crypto Collapse
Fri, Jul 15th 2022, by naiane
Last year, Christie’s sold nearly $150 million worth of NFTs. This year? So far, it has sold just $4.6 million.
As NFT art sales decline, digital art stars appear to be weathering the cryptocurrency storm.
The days of $69.3 million JPEGs may be over for now, but a handful of leading digital artists held on, during a Christie’s charity sale on Tuesday that tested the enduring appeal of tokenized art, in amid a recent drop in cryptocurrency values.
Christie’s $1.6 million “Cartography of the Mind” sale surpassed the house’s own $1.5 million expectations, but none of her 27 offerings sold for more than $250,000.
The sale comes amid a market meltdown for cryptocurrencies, many of which, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, have recently dropped to less than half their peak values.
The Christie’s sale hit a large number of NFT artists, including Beeple, Refik Anadol and Mad Dog Jones. They gained global prominence amid last year’s bonanza for digital art, thanks to cryptocurrency investors and the advent of digital receipts known as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
However, few of these digital artists have passed a major market test since the cryptocurrency markets nearly collapsed this spring. The dearth of market intelligence means that collectors are now struggling to predict the trajectory of distinctive blue-chip NFTs from collectible tokens. This partly explains why collectors focused on this small Christie’s sale, curated by one of their own alternative asset investors, Ryan Zurrer.
The lower estimates on Tuesday’s sale could be a sign that the art market is recalibrating the levels of its digital artists, dealers said. It could also indicate the level at which artists were willing to donate pieces to a charitable cause, in this case the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
On Tuesday, it took 10 bids for an online collector to win Beeple’s $252,000 prize, “Pilgrimage.” The digital landscape, which features a little man walking among towering mushrooms, has surpassed its estimate of $250,000. That pales in comparison to the kind of feverish attention given last year to the artist’s seminal, $69.3 million “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” that helped launch the NFTs arts boom. (His estimate at the time: $100.)
Christie’s said it is still willing to accept cryptocurrencies for some of its offerings, but the house has only sold $4.6 million worth of NFT artwork so far this year, including Tuesday’s sale. Last year, it sold nearly $150 million worth of NFTs.
Sam Spratt, a New York-based digital artist known for designing an album for rapper Kid Cudi, kicked off the sale with his pictorial portrait of human ancestor Lucy resting in a gnarled tree, “VII. Worm food.” The work attracted 15 bids and sold for $252,000, above its estimate of $120,000.
Another artist who goes by Elfjtrul of Forgotten Runes made 23 bids, the most pitched on sale, for a pixelated eyeball surrounded by dragons and angel wings, “Quantum Ouroboros”. It sold for $138,600, up from its estimate of $35,000.
Sarah Meyohas, a pioneering NFT artist who rose to fame in 2015 for creating her own cryptocurrency, BitchCoin, saw her work, “Liquid Speculation #26”, attract 14 bids and sell for $9,450, above her low estimate of $26. 8,000.
Elsewhere in the sale, Mad Dog Jones’ “Silly Simon’s Psilocybin” sold for $75,600. Last year, the same artist sold a larger NFT art project at Phillips, “Replicator,” for $4.1 million.
However, “Baby Eyes” by artist and animation filmmaker Jake Fried sold after a single bid, as did pieces by Anadol, Tom Sachs, Brendan Dawes and Justin Aversano.