Cultural Currency: Token Uprising
By Chloe Chu
A fuse was lit on March 11 with Christie’s USD 69.3 million sale of the NFT for Beeple’s digital collage Everydays: The First 5000 Days (2021). This led to the astronomical art-market boom of NFT sales, accompanied by talk of how the unique tokens, which can rarefy reproducible digital images by a vast array of authors, are revolutionizing the industry. Trends swiftly emerged within the highest-grossing works, with templated portraits and avatars, such as Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club (2021) series and Larva Labs’ algorithm-generated CryptoPunks (2017), both collections of 10,000 NFTs, commanding attention. At Sotheby’s “Natively Digital” (6/3–10) online auction, CryptoPunk 7523 (2017) was purchased for USD 11.8 million. By year’s end, at least four CryptoPunks ranked in the top ten list of most-expensive NFTs.