Andy Warhol created the first NFT ever and this art gallery bought it at auction

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Andy Warhol created the first NFT ever and this art gallery bought it in auction

A rare digital painting sold at a Christie’s auction in NYC for $870,000. The artwork is one of the last 30 works created by Andy Warhol before he died. Revolver Gallery, the largest gallery-owned collection of Warhol’s iconic Pop Art, acquired an NFTs released by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

It’s a major milestone in the history of art. This Andy Warhol artwork is the first time an artwork ever sold using blockchain technology in an auction environment. It’s exciting to see how collectors, experts, and buyers alike are willing to adopt new technologies while also demonstrating their support for cutting-edge blockchain companies such as Maecenas.

Nerve wracking moments at the auction

The NFT was released during the nail-biting last seconds of Christie’s online auction titled “Andy Warhol: Machine Made,” by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

As an early experiment with digital art, Warhol produced the five digital pieces in 1985, making him very probably the first commercially successful artist to adopt the media.

The winning bid for one of Warhol’s earliest digital artworks, a self-portrait created on the Amiga 1000 computer in 1985, was placed by gallery owner Ron Rivlin. The digital self-portrait, one of the first posthumous Warhol works released by the Andy Warhol Foundation since 1987, sold for $870,000.

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Untitled (Self-Portrait) NFT

The digital sculpture will be added to the collection of Rivlin’s gallery, which he launched in 2012 with the goal of amassing the world’s greatest collection of Warhol’s work. 

A true collector

Revolver Gallery, which specializes in Warhol’s work, attempts to stay up with the changes as the art industry advances and NFTs provide artists with new ways to market their work. Rivlin had the following to say regarding the purchase:

“This piece is significant for so many reasons. Warhol was always an innovator; from his role in the emergence of Pop Art to popularizing the common technique of screen printing. He was also the first publisher of a successful tabloid celebrity magazine, Interview Magazine. Now, as it relates to this Amiga artwork, he was likely the first “celebrity artist” to experiment with computer generated art.  Not to mention this was a digital “selfie” decades before it’s time. At the time this artwork was created, it would have been such a foreign offering to a collector, but today it’s so relevant, and one worthy of being displayed at a museum.”

The auction marked a historical milestone for the Revolver Gallery and the Warhol Foundation, which hadn’t released any works since 1987 when Andy Warhol passed. Until now, when the Foundation minted five NFTs of Warhol’s original digital art to be auctioned off at Christie’s between May 19th and 27th.

Andy Warhol explored the digital medium of digital art in his own time. Although the results were not published, they were found recently on an obsolete floppy disk. Provided with technical aid from the Carnegie Mellon Computer Club and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, these experiments relate to his period of exploration of new technologies.

20 years after the artist’s death, this group of computer engineers and the Andy Warhol Foundation employees have recovered 11 lost Warhol artworks from a floppy disk, Among them is the Revolver Gallery-acquired self-portrait.

Warhol’s broad body of work spans a wide range of genres and media. Warhol’s unparalleled perseverance allows him to remain relevant even in 2021, amid the mind-boggling NFT boom, and only adds to the Pop artist’s legacy.

“NFT art sales seem to overshadow what’s more important, the artwork itself.”

– Ron Rivlin

The work sold for $870,000 in the end, a tiny sum to pay for such a significant item. Ron Rivlin and the Revolver Gallery are pleased with the addition of a digital artwork to the gallery’s ever-growing collection of over 250 original works.

In April of 2021, Ron Rivlin, in addition to owning the gallery, coordinated one of the highest-value NFT sales at $4.14 million dollars with Phillips auction house, when Mad Dog Jones became the most expensive living Canadian artist.

“NFT art sales seem to overshadow what’s more important, the artwork itself. Even if it was auctioned as a printed version of the actual artwork, I would have bought it, but I must say that I do love that it is being represented and transacted in the medium it was created in.  An original digital file of an artwork composed by Warhol at a time when home computers and software were both archaic and elementary. I have to say, I think his effort was a successful one.  I’m proud to show it off and have it as part of our collection.”

After so much controversy surrounding digital art and the prices of NFTs, this story seems to give a new meaning to the discussion with a touch of the genius of Andy Warhol.

By: Juan Mende. Images: Revolver Gallery.


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