Beeple's record-breaking artwork "First 5,000 Days"

How was a Wisconsinite Able to Sell Virtual Art for Almost $70 MILLION?

Who is Beeple? And other questions for the local artist who recently broke an auction record.

Who is Beeple?

Neenah, Wis. native Mike Winkelmann takes his virtual brush to the abstract canvas in a popular computer program called photoshop. His cultivated brand and alias, Beeple, is one of the first to make a grand use of Blockchain art. He creates everything from dystopian works with a familiar twist from our everyday realities to intricate abstract geometries. He recently sold his work Everydays – The First 5,000 Days for $69,346250. Yeah, you read that correctly. It sold for almost $70 million. It is a collage containing 5,000 digital illustrations and photos of his previous works.

What in the heck are NFTs?

NFT stands for non-fungible token, which is a cryptocurrency someone would use to prove the file is real. It’s as if the art had a social security number. Artists like Beeple sell NFTs online through digital marketplaces like Ethereum, which is currently the leading proprietor of NFTs. Each NFT has secret coding which proves it is the real deal. Copy and past will not work with NFTs.




Milwaukee Magazine connects you with the most trusted and enduring local businesses. Here, we introduce you to the people whose hard work makes these businesses successful. 


Why would anyone spend millions on one of these files?

If I wanted to, I could go onto Google images and download a high-resolution image of the Mona Lisa, but that does not mean I own the painting. It is the same concept with NFTs. You can purchase unique digital artwork from creatives like Beeple, an essay, a domain name or really anything digital. Unfortunately, you do not get royalties with the purchase of an NFT. Buying one is exactly as it sounds, for the sake of buying original art and the satisfaction that your digital masterpiece is real.

What does the future hold?

Digital marketplaces for art curated in blockchain marketplaces may be the new art galleries. So, does the NFT hold value or does the art? The answer is both make the art valuable. Popularity, rarity, originality and of course, how much someone is willing to pay for the art is what gives it value. Essentially a certificate of authenticity, the NFT is what retains the digital creation’s value.