Two Years Ago Today, a Historic NFT Sale Was Made

4 min readMar 13, 2023
History Today Beeples Historic NFT Sale

On March 11, 2021, a digital artist named Beeple sold one of his works, the Everydays: The First 5,000 Days, for an eye-popping $69.3 million at the world-famous Christie’s Auction House. The sale was a record breaking and historic one, during that time, as it is Christie’s first-ever NFT auction and the most expensive NFT ever sold. Beeple also became the third-most expensive living artist on the long list of Christie’s decorated art sales at the time.

The Christie’s sale was monumental for the art world. With the single-lot auction, the 256-year-old institution brought the mechanism of NFTs into the eyeline of traditional art world watchers, while inviting a new generation of collectors into its gilded orbit.

It was the first time that a major auction house, usually catering only to traditional and physical art sales, had sold a purely digital art called an NFT — which was yet to gain a lot of buzz from the mainstream media until that day. The historic event created noise on multiple social networks and even debates amongst art enthusiasts reached fever pitch. This eventually led to mainstream coverage but instead of the collector, auction house, or the artwork itself, the discussion was centered around the words non-fungible tokens or NFTs.

After the media headlined the event, a wider and more open-minded art community were now paying attention. Beeple’s statement after the sale, “I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history, digital art!”

After March 11, 2021, NFT engagements skyrocketed, more people became curious how NFT works or how to create one, and the market started gaining traction than ever before.

What has happened to the NFT market since the historic NFT sale?

While it was all positives and optimism on the web 3.0 community, some mainstream media perceived NFTs as an outlet for fraudsters and scammers rather than artists and innovators. Instead of focusing on the dozens of use cases of NFTs, and the many more to be discovered, including the underlying blockchain technology, the media has been highlighting the drawbacks — the technology’s volatility, its association to cryptocurrencies, regulatory issues, and its impact on the environment.

But despite the media being selective, the ever-supportive community remained intact and even grew larger. This translated to a higher market volume and more projects were initiated that are not only limited to income-generating digital assets.

More than a month after the historic NFT auction, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC)was launched. What started as a $200 dollar NFT is now valued to be over a million dollars. This collection of 10,000 graphical representations of cartoon-like apes has caught the attention of celebrities, sports superstars, and even business tycoons. What made the entire collection more special is that each of the apes have distinctive features and are never alike — even their metadata.

Aside from the rarity of each bored ape, the utilities and perks are what makes BAYC more valuable as it gives any Bored Ape owner an exclusive access to its Discord group where they chat, network, and build relationships with other owners, including celebrities. Ape holders also have access to “The Bathroom,” letting them make a drawing every 15 minutes on a virtual bathroom wall that acts as a community board. Owners are also invited to exclusive events and gatherings hosted by BAYC.

Since then, there have been several established and emerging artists that use NFTs in a revolutionary way. Shezad Dawood, a London-based artist, has collaborated with Zien, a Web3 art platform, to create a series of NFTs called the “Sea of Redemption.” The series is a clever, satirical play on the “cult of crypto” and a response to the crash in the NFT market, drawing on imagery from the oceanic ecosystem and mythic beginnings.

There are other signs of promise for NFTs in the art world: Late last year, Christie’s launched a new platform that exists entirely on the blockchain, and just this month, Art Dubai created an expanded digital section for its 2023 edition.

As people continue to explore the world of NFTs, more use cases will also be discovered to achieve a true mass adoption of the technology. There have been more NFT creators now than there was five years ago, so it is expected that the community will continue to flourish, technology will improve, and that NFTs are here to stay.

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