Despite taking place online,the final moments of a recent Christies art auction were dramatic.
An artwork had just sold for nearly seventy million dollars.
Even the artist Mike Winkelmann was stunned.
Its like an unfathomable number to be quite honest.
Its just crazy.
Its the third highest amount ever paid for a work by a living artist.
And even more extraordinary, the work is digital,with no real physical presence other than a digital file.
"Everydays: The First 5000 Days" is a collage of five thousand images
“Everydays: The First 5000 Days”是由5000张图片组成的拼贴画，
made one per day over a period of thirteen and a half years by Winkelmann.
He uses the name Beeple.
Over the years, Beeple has shared these images freely on social media.
So how does an artwork go from free to worth millions overnight?
The secret ingredient is something called a non-fungible token, or NFT.
NFTs use block chain technology,
but unlike other forms of cryptocurrency,each NFT is unique.
Attaching an NFT to an artwork is a way to authenticate it with a digital signature.
Digital artist Jonathan Monaghan has also sold work using NFTs.
The hardest thing about being a digital artist
is always been trying to get people to get behind a unique artwork that exists only as a digital file.
Last year, the NFT Art Marketplace Foundation approached Monaghan about joining its roster of artists.
When I started this about in October, it was pretty quiet there.
There was only a dozen, so hard is doing this.
I think its incomprehensible how much this blew up in the past two months.
NFTs have been around for about three years and are now being used to sell everything,
from basketball highlights, digital objects from video games and even a tweet.
The big players in the NFT field tend to be cryptocurrency insiders,
both the winner and the next highest bidder in the bid auction on crypto related businesses.
And though the auction was held by the old world auction house Christies,
the artwork was paid for using the ether cryptocurrency.
Like the rest of the rapidly evolving crypto world,
NFT represents risks to both artists and collectors,warns investigative journalist Amy Castor.
NFT doesnt really do anything.
Its just a token, and the only value of that is speculative.
That is what somebody else is willing to pay you for it.
What happens is when you get all this attention and excitement around
is that more real money gets funneled into the cryptocurrency system.
Then the people that have been holding those cryptocurrencies for financial crime cash out.
For Monaghan, who says he has researched the crypto world,
the potential benefits of using NFTs outweigh the risks.
Digital art is getting the recognition that it deserves.
And theres a lot of important artistic voices that are now being heard
that were not being supported before.
Matt Dibble for VOA news