Tuesday/ the art of deception

‘You need only two rich people to want to buy something they can exclusively own for it to become very expensive’.
– Sebastian Smee, art critic for Washington Post

Here’s the instantly infamous digital work of art ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ by an artist from North Carolina called Beeple (Mike Winkelmann). It’s a collage of 5,000 digital images. Each one took one day to create. The buyer was a Singapore-based founder and financer of the cryptofund Metapurse who goes by the name Metakovan. That says it all right there, in my humble opinion.
An image from ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’, by Beeple. (Christie’s Images Limited 2020)

The recent sale of the digital thing (it’s a .jpg file) called ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days‘ with its non-fungible token* attached, has caused a stir in the art world. It went for $69.3 million.

*Essentially a digital certificate of authenticity that is a string of characters connected to a blockchain: the same concept that powers cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. (The blockchain means the characters sit in different physical places around the internet, and have to be combined to verify authenticity).

Is it art? I don’t know, I guess so — but it cannot possibly be worth $69.3 million. Just as the Rabbit, the Pool with Two Figures, or that duct-taped banana, cannot possibly be worth $91.1 million, $90.3 million or $125,000, respectively.

(Just for the record, Guinness World Records lists Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as having the highest-ever insurance value for a painting. On permanent display at the Louvre in Paris, the Mona Lisa was assessed at US $100 million on Dec. 14, 1962. Taking inflation into account, the 1962 value would be around US $870 million today).

Here is David Hockney’s ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)‘ that went for $90.3 million in Nov. 2018.
Rabbit by Jeff Koons was sold for more than $91 million at Christie’s in New York in May 2019. It set a new record for the most expensive work by a living artist to be sold at auction after the Pool with Two Figures.
The ‘Art Basel Banana’ was a stunt, and not a work of art (my opinion). It was created by Maurizio Cattelan, and he titled the ‘art work’ Comedian. Mr. Cattelan’s bananas were offered in a limited edition of three with one artist’s proof, sold at a cost of $120,000 apiece at the Art Basel show in Miami Beach in Dec. 2019. Maybe the bananas were special? No. At least one of the bananas reportedly came from a local Miami supermarket.


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