by Peter Schiff
Euro Pacific Capital
Recently, a piece of collage art entitled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” by an artist known as Beeple, sold at a Christie’s auction for $69 million. The Wall Street Journal noted that the price was higher than any that has ever been paid for works of Frida Kahlo, Paul Gaugin, or Salvador Dali. But, before the auction, few outside the digital art world had ever heard of Beeple, which may explain why the bidding started at just $100. But the sale does not suggest a sudden re-evaluation of his talents. Instead, it is a stunning statement about the medium of the art itself or, more precisely, the lack of it. In fact, “Everdays: The First 5000 Days” isn’t made out of anything you can touch. It is entirely virtual.
Unlike other pieces of high priced art, you can’t hang it over your mantle to dazzle your dinner guests. The image is only available on your computer or, better still, through a virtual reality headset. But even as the owner of the image, you won’t be able to control access to it. The file has been copied thousands of times, so anyone with access to the internet can look at it as much as you. And unlike the clear differences that exist between an original Van Gogh and even the best copies, there will be no visual differences between the digital copies and the original.