Lactating humanoid breasts. Buzz Lightyear with a bloodied chain saw. Donald Trump getting spanked by Abraham Lincoln. These are some of the images contained in Mike Winkelmann’s “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS.” Christie’s auction house sold the digital artwork this month for $69 million. That makes the piece by Mr. Winklemann, also known as Beeple, the third highest sale by a living artist, following Jeff Koons and David Hockney.
But unlike a Koons or a Hockney, Mr. Winklemann’s piece was a nonfungible token, or NFT. These tokens are unique digital assets verified by blockchain technology. NFTs may be the new frontier for ownership on the internet — and everyone wants a piece. Brands, musicians, professional athletes, and design studios have all announced NFTs of their own.
In this episode of “Sway,” Kara Swisher and Mr. Winkelmann talk about whether his work is actually worth $69 million, how he grapples with the environmental impact of blockchain minting, and how NFTs will change how we buy and flaunt digital ownership.
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Special thanks to Shannon Busta and Liriel Higa.
“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair and Michelle Harris; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Erick Gomez.