NFT, MetaKoven and the Triumph of Digital Ownership
Meet Mike Winkelmann, 41 years old, also known as Beeple, the best-paid NFT artist in the world after selling a JPEG called “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS” for 69.3 Million USD last March 2021.
I knew Beeple as an artist a long time ago, when I was starting in the VJ world (I am not sure if we can exactly call it business yet). His name spread quickly among video-jockeys all over the world, as he shared FREE footage for VJ sessions. Loops named himself as “Beeple Crap”. But not only that, he also shared its C4D project files. Needless to say that all of us had the loop’s Beeple file in our laptops for long vj sessions at the time, that was a fact.
Early 2000: Beeple was one of us
I started vijing many years ago and, information about digital art, or what we were doing mixing images in clubs was so strange to the rest of the world, that we did not expect any kind of support at all. But Beeple gave it to us, and he made a huge impact for a bunch of visualist underdogs at the time.
Actually, he reached such a popularity among VJs in the early 2000, that playing Beeple on screen felt kind of cheating. He just became too mainstream and recognizable, although his work was colorful and perfect to be synchronized with BPMs.
A little bit after, in 2007, Beeple started “Everydays”, an initiative in which he would create a 3D still every single day of his life, until this present day (5600 days today according to his website); including days of weddings, births and deaths.
I must say that until 3 years ago, general thinking was that we could not monetize video art. Digital copies were identical (as they are still), and there was no official agreement about ownership in the art world for us.
2008: Cryptos comes into play
In a parallel space-time in 2008, Cryptos were born, and if you can remember that moment, you will recall that they were extremely attached to the dark web. Yes, remember when Bitcoin was mainly (only) useful there?
Crypto world needed a clean slate, a new friendly product not only based on fluctuations and shady transactions, but also one that could do a service in the real world, a form of crypto that general public could use, no age banned, something attractive with no constrictions on crazy prizes, something like… art?.
I do not want to skip the chronology of events, so please, just hold this thought for now and remember this fact: Crypto people have been making money since 2008, a lot of new money in the shadows, that they could not translate into the real word without paying extreme high taxes.
Years passed by, and Beeple became a recognized motion graphics artist, highly demanded for video clips and live visual shows like Flying Lotus, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj, to name just a few.
He also did personal projects, like my favorite one, “Zero Day”, a conceptual and methodic short film that conserved the same VJ spirit that gave him his first recognition. “Zero Day” was mathematical, and perfectly synchronized with music and sound. On top of that, the idea that it was entirely made by himself was just mind-blowing to me. This is why he makes digital art: he wants to control every aspect of his productions and just not deal with people. And Beeple, I can relate.
In the second decade of 2000, Beeple became a regular in the circuit of the few existing video art festivals in the world, even without being there, because all his stuff was just free. And he was not a rich guy. I remember when he did a Motion Graphics workshop in Seville (Spain) in 2019 for a 500-euro entrance ticket !!! I regretted so much not attending back then, imagine now…
SPAIN!!!!!!! only 3 spots left for workshop in seville. come for hangz and learnz!!! INFO & BOOKINGS: firstname.lastname@example.org— beeple (@beeple) May 20, 2019
2014: And in the meantime, NFTs were Born.
Going back to the Crypto Currency situation, in 2014, NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) broke into the market as a brand new crypto, with the particularity that these tokens were attached to a digital asset, with a “super” encrypted code that operated inside the Blockchain of Ethereum, a similar one to Bitcoin. And this would give us what all of us, Digital Misfits, were looking for, the so-called DIGITAL OWNERSHIP.
That is right, this invention would finally allow us to sign our work in a way that could be traced, so it could be sold. Meanwhile, Crypto Coins would enter the real world through the big art gate.
But Beeple was reluctant then, as many of us were. After a lifetime of not believing in the art circuit for digital artists, it was just hard to believe that the general public would recognize this new method as valid and start to actually pay us. Actually, NFTs became popular in 2019, barely 3 years ago. Exactly the year that Beeple decided to take a look at them, after years of dismissed advice from people around him.
And he broke really good in the NFT business. With more than 2 million followers on Instagram and Twitter, he started selling his individual “Everydays” for thousands. Future was increasingly bright for Beeple, but the best part was still about to come.
January 1st, 2021: New AML Legislation
Next happy coincidence was the new regulation against speculation in conventional art when on January 1st of 2021, the US Senate passed into law the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA).
Although the new measure came from the States, it rapidly affected the rest of the world, beginning in the UK and Mexico, where art sales dropped 70% (maybe because the Mexican cartel was not interested in investing in art anymore? who knows).
What we know is, before the AMLA law, buyers and sellers were often not identified, and trillions of dollars were traded illicitly.
So, my dearest reader, after all we know by now, be my guest and guess: what new product could do the trick for all these shady art fans all over the world? Exactly!, our beloved NFTs.
January 23rd, 2021
Introducing MetaKova, a.k.a. Vignesh Sundaresan.
Remember Crypto people making money since 2008? Well, MetaKova was definitely one of them. A big Crypto entrepreneur from India, with millions made in different crypto currencies and invested in several companies of the Metaverse, with a new objective: Digital Art business.
So, on 23 January 2021, he purchased a series of digital images of Beeple for 2.2 million, that used to promote his new online gallery and loudly establish a new way of investing in art, but this would not be his only purchase. Actually, he bought several Beeple pieces with different nicknames for higher and higher amounts each time. He was secretly making a collection.
At this point, we almost have all we need for a perfect cocktail of 69 Million Dollars, only a last ingredient is needed:
February of 2021
The Major auction house Christie’s opens the bid for an NFT for the first time in history.
New AMLA law and the new obvious trend arising in NFT markets were enough to achieve what we thought would never be possible: to see cretaceous art institutions validating Digital Art, and not only that, opening a new line of business to surf the inexplicable NFT bubble.
And that is how on 11 March 2021, auction house Christie’s sold his first NFT, for 69.3 Million Dollars. The art piece was called “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” by Beeple. A JPEG of 21,069 x 21,069 pixels, creating a mosaic of Mike Winkelmann’s everyday work for 14 years that you can see online on Christie’s webpage .
And guess who bought it: our new art messia, Vignesh Sundaresan.
Isn’t it nice when real life closes the circle as a novel would do?
Yes, Vignesh is a really sneaky, smart guy. And it worked, his services are now on a map on another level, he does not even need to resell the “5000 first Everydays” jpeg. The promotion around it is so much worth it, that he recently claimed that the jpeg can be downloaded for free, because of his belief in the new model of Digital Ownership. What a statement!, don’t you think so?
On the other hand, I personally love that Beeple was the chosen one to be the winner in the big scheme of events and make history. It is just poetic justice for all of us. He clearly states his distant position from MetaKova business while he agrees with the NFT bubble theory. He remains humble and grounded in every interview, intelligently laughing about everything and everyone around the NFT craziness, being the nicest guy possible at the same time.
So, Beeple, this is just a letter from a grateful VJ from the 2000s.
We love you, keep rocking it.
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