Beeple: Mike Winkelmann the Most famous NFT Artist? 20 Facts
Beeple: Mike Winkelmann the Most famous NFT Artist? 20 Facts
Until October of last year, the most Mike Winkelmann, the digital artist known as Beeple, had ever sold a print for was $100. Recently, however, an NFT of his work sold for a staggering $69 million at Christie’s as captured over at runrex.com, positioning him among the top three most valuable living artists. So, what happened between October last year and now that has made him so successful, who is he, and is he the most famous NFT artist in the world right now?
What are NFTs?
To understand what Mike Winkelmann does, you have to understand what NFTs are. As outlined over at guttulus.com, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique files that live on a blockchain and can verify ownership of a work of digital art. This technology has exploded over the past few months, and Winkelmann has been at the forefront of it all.
What is Christie’s
Mike Winkelmann and Christie’s have become synonymous in recent times as his artworks have sold for huge amounts. But what is Christie’s? From discussions over at runrex.com, Christie’s is a British auction house founded in 1766 by James Christie, and offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, and more.
Even before his association with Christie’s, Winkelmann already had celebrity backing having crated concert visual for artists such as Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Childish Gambino, among others as covered over at guttulus.com.
First standalone NFT work of art
When Christie’s announced that it was selling a digital work by Winkelmann earlier this year in February, it became the first major auction house to offer a standalone NFT work of art, which was the start of Winkelmann’s journey to becoming the most NFT artist out there.
What was the reception for the first auction?
The reception of Winkelmann’s artwork was tremendous. Within the first hour of the work going live on Christie’s on the 25th of February, 2021, bids had rocketed from $100 to $1 million, pushing Winkelmann into the upper echelons, price-wise, of the art market.
What is his background?
Winkelmann, who named himself Beeple after a 1980s furry toy, has an interesting background. As highlighted over at runrex.com, he made a career as a graphic designer and animator, creating concert visuals for performing artists such as Ariana Grande as already mentioned, as well as working with other clients like Elon Musk and Apple.
What was his first big success at auction?
Winkelmann’s first big success at auction came in December of last year when he dropped 21 pieces on Nifty Gateway. According to guttulus.com, over one weekend the sale netted $3.5 million, plus $500,000 on the secondary market.
Who is MetaKovan?
When you talk about Winkelmann’s first big success at auction, one of the names that keep cropping up is MetaKovan. From discussions over at runrex.com, during this auction, a mystery buyer known only as MetaKovan, and who is thought to be based in Singapore, scooped 20 of the 21 works by Winkelmann, and the two will always be linked because of that.
When did he first get into NFTs?
Given his success and the fact that he is now arguably the most famous NFT artist in the world, you are tempted to think that he has been in the industry for a long time. However, Winkelmann made his first foray into NFTs in October of last year, which just shows how remarkable his rise has been.
How did he get so good at it?
Winkelmann talks about how he made it his business to learn all there was to know about NFTs and the industry. He says he talked to collectors in the industry, CEOs of the platforms in the industry, artists already in the space, and anybody who could help him wrap his head around what NFTs were all about.
The COVID-19 effect
As the subject matter experts over at guttulus.com point out, the pandemic has brought much of the analog art world into the 21st century, a seismic shift that has benefited NFTs most of all. This shift has accelerated the NFT space extremely fast, and NFT artists like Winkelmann have benefited from it.
A welcome relief for artists
As explained over at runrex.com, for many artists struggling to make ends meet without physical, in-person shows, the NFT space offers a tangible income with the help of smart contracts that automatically provide them with a cut, usually around 10%, of all future sales, allowing them to make money again, and Winkelmann is among them.
Quality of work
Many of the more traditional art world players have bemoaned the quality of NFT artworks, with many saying that the NFT space is filled with poor-quality art. However, as captured over at guttulus.com, Winkelmann’s drawings have been the exception to the rule as his work has been lauded as being of the highest quality, hence his popularity and success.
What is his inspiration?
As mentioned in the previous point, Winkelmann’s drawings are top quality and are inspired by the British illustrator, Tom Judd. Winkelmann has been creating one sketch a day since 1st May 2007, which means that his drops comprise a collection of many pieces of art.
What kind of drawings does he make?
Winkelmann’s drawings are part political cartoon, part homage to popular culture, and this combination has been well received in the NFT space. Some of the characters that regularly crop up in his drawings include Buzz Lightyear, Kim Jong Un, and Donald Trump.
A huge following on social media
One of the factors that helps explain why Winkelmann’s work has become so popular is the fact that he has developed a large fan base on social media, with around 2.5 million followers across social channels as articulated over at runrex.com.
He is prolific
As mentioned earlier, Winkelmann has been creating one sketch a day since 1st May 2007, as part of a project called “Everydays”. The project is now in its 14th year and has more than images in it. It is this prolific nature that has also contributed to his success and popularity according to guttulus.com.
The NFT wave
Another factor that explains why his work is so valuable is the fact that NFTs have blown up over the last couple of months as mentioned already, and are being seen by many as the way digital art will be acquired and traded going forward. This has led to escalating prices in the space, and Winkelmann is one of the artists that have benefited massively from this as covered over at runrex.com.
The Christie’s factor
While Mike Winkelmann is a force of personality by himself, you cannot also underestimate the role Christie’s plays as a legitimizing force for both his art and NFTs as a technology. His association with the 225-year-old auction house has legitimized his work and contributed to his success.
Winkelmann and THAT $69 million sale
On the 25th of February this year, Winkelmann had his artwork titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” listed by Christie’s as already mentioned, becoming the first purely digital artwork backed by an NFT to put under the hammer by a major auction house. The artwork was listed for only $100, but shot up to $69,346,250 on the final day of the action, with some 22 million people tuning in to follow the final minutes of the auction on Christie’s website, cementing Winkelmann’s place as the most famous NFT artist out there.