In brief

  • David Hockney, the highest valued living artist, is no fan of NFTs, but he also admits to not understanding how they work.
  • Hockney, also a digital artist who prints out his work, called Beeple's record-breaking NFT artwork "silly."

The sale of Beeple’s artwork for $69.3 million last month made Beeple the third most valuable living artist, behind only Jeff Koons and David Hockney.

Hockney, who holds the record for the highest sale of a work by a living artist, is no fan of NFTs. "I think it's I.C.S.,” he said when asked about the phenomenon. "International crooks and swindlers." Hockney said he has read about NFTs, but is not interested.

“What is it that they’re owning? I don’t really know,” he said on yesterday’s episode of Waldy and Bendy’s Adventures in Art, an art podcast hosted by Waldemar Januszczak, art critic of The Sunday Times, and Bendor ‘Bendy’ Grosvenor, art historian and TV presenter.

Hockney, 83, couldn’t care less about NFTs. “I'm not looking for money,” he shrugged.

Understandably. Hockney's best-known artwork, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), sold in 2018 at auction for a record $90.3 million.

He doesn’t think NFTs make much sense at all. “Things can get lost in the computer, can’t they?” he said on the podcast.

“And they will be, in the future, lost in the computer, even when the cloud gets going. There’s going to be so much on it, how will you find it?”

The podcast hosts did not care to explain what a blockchain is—and how NFTs live forever on the network.

But Hockney has a point: NFTs, effectively immutable links to URLs, are redirecting users to sites that no longer host the artwork the NFT represents.

Hockney v Beeple

Hockney's no fan of newcomer Beeple.

Beeple’s EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS sold last month for $69.3 million at Christie’s, the auction house at which Hockney sold his $90.3 million piece in 2018.

“I saw the pictures, but I mean it just looked like silly little things,” he said of Beeple’s artwork. “I couldn’t make out what it was, actually."

This NFT sold for $69 million at Christie's.
This NFT sold for $69 million at Christie's. Image: Beeple

Hockney is also a digital artist—he creates his artwork on an iPad. But unlike Beeple and many other NFT artists, he prints them all out.

Note: This post was updated on April 4 at 8:15pm EST.