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Mike Winkelmann, a Digital Artist Making Money IRL

His work Everydays: The First 5,000 Days sold at auction in March for $69.3 million, shattering the record for a piece of digital art.

Mike Winkelmann

Mike Winkelmann

Photographer: Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier/AP Photo

Winkelmann, who goes by Beeple, isn’t a typical superstar artist. He favors khakis and collared shirts, speaks in a down-home Midwest vernacular that’s riddled with expletives, and, until recently, had a successful day job as a graphic designer in Charleston, S.C. The sale by Christie’s of his work—a mosaic of bizarre images that he made and posted to Instagram every day since 2013, most of which include Winkelmann’s frat-boy-adjacent take on pop culture—wasn’t a standard auction.

Winkelmann attached Everydays to a blockchain-based contract, so the buyer didn’t get a physical version; the work is confined to a digital screen. And the Singapore-based cryptocurrency investor who purchased the piece paid for the work in Ether. The sale was the third-most-expensive artwork by a living artist to have been bought at auction; in response, Winkelmann tweeted, “holy f---.”