Opinion

The almost idyllic picture of crypto-art

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino03 février 2022

Today, the minimum price to buy a CryptoPunk on dedicated platforms is about $38,000. In their early days, these algorithmically generated pixelated works were free or worth little more than $200. How has this value been built up in such a short time? And what are the criteria for valuing CryptoPunk or, more broadly, crypto-art?

The market, first of all, has structured itself. Mainly Anglo-Saxon, platforms such as Opensea or SuperRare are today the market leaders and collaborate with the major institutions, Sotheby's and Christie's in the lead. They were able to capitalise very early on the " endorsement " of art professionals. Then there is rarity. Each NFT (Non-fungible Token) work is unique. While 10,000 CryptoPunks were produced, all different, and illustrating male, female or animal characters, the creation of aliens gave rise to only ten pixelated figurines. And that's where the value goes up. Today, an alien CryptoPunk can be bought for at least 1 million dollars.

Then there is the artwork. Seemingly simple, even simplistic, crypto-art is not. Beeple's work sold by Christie's for $69 million was a collage of 5,000 unique works created every day, without interruption by the artist. The Astro Boy, worth 9,999 Ethereum on SuperRare, or more than $26 million, is a digital work authorised by manga master Tezuka Osama. The image is a painstaking collage of over 40,000 small square fragments cut from the original manga's black-and-white manuscript, which have been selected and arranged to match the images of the characters. The 70-artist collective's work on Hashmask also delivered interesting works because of the different conditions of rarity of each work. Authentication, finally. The animated gifs, videos or digital images are all NFTs. Certified and guaranteed by the blockchain system, they allow the assurance of exclusive ownership. And, thus, reassure and advance the market.

It is clear that the conditions for structuring the market and increasing the value of crypto-art have been met. Perhaps only one is missing from the idyllic picture: emotional value. And there, digitalization clearly shows its limits.

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