Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, is an American graphic designer. He is best known as the creator of the NFT Everydays: The First 5000 Days, a collage of 5,000 digital artworks made every day across 13 years.
In 2021, the work was offered at Christie’s. It was the first time the auction house had ever sold a purely digital work of art. It achieved $69 million, making Beeple the world’s most expensive NFT artist at the time.
Born in Wisconsin, Beeple graduated from Purdue University in Indiana. He majored in computer science. In May 2007, whilst producing graphics for clients including Apple, SpaceX and the Super Bowl, he started creating his Everyday series.
Taking the form of grotesque, dystopian futures, often featuring celebrities like Donald Trump and Kanye West, the images were critiques of modern society, the government and social media. In 2018, the fashion designer Nicolas Ghesquière digitally printed a selection of Beeple’s Everyday artworks onto a fashion collection for Louis Vuitton.
In October 2020, Beeple sold his first collection of NFTs. The drop crashed the auction website Nifty Gateway. One of the works, an animation called Crossroads, which would change depending on the outcome of the upcoming American presidential election, sold for $66,666. Two months later, Beeple released a second drop. One of the works sold for $777,777, at the time a new record price for an NFT.
In March 2021, Christie’s opened bidding on Everydays at $100. A fortnight later, the sale closed at $69,346,250, shattering the world record price for an NFT. Because of the work’s social commentary and unconventional medium, comparisons were quickly drawn between Beeple and the graffiti artist Banksy.
The sale made Beeple the third most expensive living artist to sell at auction, after David Hockney and Jeff Koons. It was also the first time Christie’s would accept payment from a winning bidder in cryptocurrency. ‘It was historically significant that it was the first major sale where literally nothing besides a piece of computer code was being transferred,’ Beeple said after the sale.
The following November, Christie’s offered Beeple’s artwork Human One in a 21st Century Evening Sale. Composed of an NFT and a physical, seven-foot-high generative sculpture, which evolves dynamically across four video screens, it achieved $28,985,000.