In brief

  • Crypto artist Beeple received the $53 million proceeds of his record-breaking NFT sale in Ethereum—and quickly exchanged it for US dollars.
  • He later compared the current NFT craze to the early days of the Internet "bubble."

Upon receiving $53 million worth of Ethereum (ETH) for his record-breaking NFT art sale, crypto artist Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, didn’t think twice before swapping the cryptocurrency for traditional cash.

Beeple told The New Yorker on Monday that soon after he received his cut of the $69.3 million sale—minus auctioneer's fees and taxes—he became "spooked," as The New Yorker describes it, by ETH's volatility and immediately converted the whole cache into cold, hard US dollars. 

“Boom, 53 million dollars in my account. Like, what the fuck,” Beeple recalled, recalling the day he received the money in Miami, where he flew on a booked private jet to celebrate. “I’m not remotely a crypto-purist. I was making digital art long before any of this shit, and if all this fucking NFT stuff went away tomorrow I would still be making digital art,” he said.

Beeple’s NFT artwork, EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, sold at Christie's auction house for a record-breaking $69.3 million on March 11. The artwork sparked a bidding war which saw Tron founder Justin Sun lose out at the last minute to pseudonymous NFT collector Metakovan, subsequently unmasked as Vignesh Sundaresan.

Beeple: NFTs 'a bubble'

Over the past few months, the NFT market has exploded in popularity, attracting ever-larger sums of money—with artists, celebrities and brands joining the NFT hype train. Just yesterday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold his first-ever tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million.

Unlike traditional cryptocurrency tokens, NFTs each containing unique identifying data. As such, NFTs can be truly one-of-a-kind (or one-of-a-small-batch), enabling them to lend scarcity to digital assets. Any piece of digital media can be attached to an NFT—just like Beeple’s $69 million artwork.

Beeple may have made a fortune from NFT art, but he harbors no illusions as to the current mania for non-fungible tokens. Speaking to Fox News Sunday, he said that NFT prices are "absolutely" a bubble.

“I absolutely think it’s a bubble, to be quite honest," Beeple said, likening the NFT craze to the early days of the Internet. "There was a bubble. And the bubble burst. And it wiped out a lot of crap—but it didn’t wipe out the Internet. And so the technology itself is strong enough where I think it’s going to outlive that.”