Beeple's US$28.9 million NFT sculpture sold to Swiss crypto businessman

All 40 lots offered by Christie’s New York were sold in their 21st Century Evening Sale on 9 November. The international auction house pulled off a white-glove sale total of US$219.2 million dollars.

American digital artist Beeple's dynamic video sculpture, Human One, was sold at US$28.9 million dollars with buyer’s premium. It became the second most expensive NFT art ever, second to Beeple's JPG work called Everydays: The First 5000 Days. The buyer of Human One was Ryan Zurrer, a successful crypto businessman from Switzerland. 

Alongside Beeple’s artwork, the second most expensive lot was British figurative artist Peter Doig’s Swamped painting, while Basquiat’s The Guilt of Gold Teeth painting was the sale’s most valuable lot. Both were sold for more than US$35 million dollars. 

Lot 7A | Beeple | Human One, Kinetic video sculpture – four video screens (16k resolution), polished aluminium metal, mahogany wood frame, dual media servers; endless video with corresponding dynamic non-fungible token 

Created in 2021
Minted on 28 October 2021
220.1 x 121.9 x 121.9 cm

  • The artist

Wallet address: 0xc6b0562605D35eE710138402B878ffe6F2E23807

Estimate on request (Expected to fetch US$15 million)

Hammer Price: US$25,000,000

Sold: US$28,985,000

This work by Beeple was estimated at more than US$15 million dollars before the auction. The bidding started at US$12 million dollars, attracting bids from collectors on the phone with specialists in New York and Hong Kong. 

When the bidding reached US$16 million dollars, a Swiss online bidder joined and bid US$17 million dollars. The bidding price then increased by US$1 million dollars. The bidding was ultimately competed between two bidders one from the auction room and an online bidder from Switzerland. After three minutes of bidding, the auctioneer dropped the hammer at US$25 million dollars  US$10 million dollars higher than expected. The Swiss buyer won the bid, and the digital artwork was sold at US$28.9 million dollars with buyer's premium. It became the sale's third most expensive lot. 

After the auction, Ryan Zurrer revealed on Twitter that he purchased Human One. He wrote, "Secured the ONE. Thank you @beeple for the visionary innovation, amazing new energy and hilarious positive vibes that you've brought to both crypto and art." 

Zurrer is the founder of Dialectic AG, a Swiss capital enterprise, focused on delivering alternative assets. 

Ryan Zurrer tweeted that he purchased Human One

Ryan Zurrer

Beeple took the art world by storm earlier in March. His digital art creation, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, was sold at a record-breaking US$69.3 million dollars. With this sale, Beeple became the third most expensive living artist.

The American digital artist then returned with his latest creation, Human One. Measuring more than two metres high roughly the size of a telephone booth, it combines both physical and digital forms.

In this dynamic video sculpture, the screens on all four sides slowly rotate and continuously play the footage of an astronaut walking in an imaginary world. The backgrounds are constantly changing – displaying pictures and images stored in the Ethereum blockchain. The artist intends to change the imagery blanketing the four walls of the sculpture throughout his lifetime.

Lot 9A | Peter Doig | Swamped, Oil on canvas

Created in 1990
197 x 241 cm
Provenance (Amended by The Value):

  • Private collection, London, acquired directly from the artist, 1990
  • Anon. sale; Sotheby’s, London, 7 February 2002, Lot 4 (Sold at US$455,400)
  • Private collection, Europe
  • Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 11 May 2015, Lot 5A (Sold at US$25.9 million)
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate on request (Expected to fetch US$35 million)

Hammer Price: US$34,500,000

Sold: US$39,862,500

The last time Doig's painting appeared in auction was in 2015, when it was sold in New York for US$25.9 million dollars – the British artist's auction record at the time. During this sale, Doig's painting was sold at US$39.8 million dollars. This lot set a new auction record, with an increase of nearly US$14 million dollars.

Painted in 1990, it depicts a moonlit lagoon, with a white canoe suspended upon its kaleidoscopic waters. A small wooden dwelling quivers silently amid rows of tall trees upon the bank, while a spectral figure lies dormant within the hull of the boat, a single arm trailing in the lake.

Based on a still from the 1980 cult horror film Friday the 13th, the painting fuses strains of romance, nostalgia and foreboding with echoes of art history, flickers of the artist’s own memories and abstract painterly techniques. Pigment, colour, form, texture and narrative are held in spellbound flux, each poised—like the canoe  between reality and its reflection.

Lot 19A | Jean-Michel Basquiat | The Guilt of Gold Teeth, Acrylic, spray paint and oilstick on canvas

Created in 1982
240 x 421.3 cm
Provenance (Amended by The Value):

  • Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zürich
  • Galerie Thomas, Munich
  • Private collection, Europe
  • Anon. sale; Sotheby’s, New York, 14 May 1998, Lot 45 (Sold at US$387,500)
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: US$40,000,000 – 80,000,000

Hammer Price: US$37,000,000

Sold: US$40,000,000

The sale's most expensive lot was Basquiat’s large scale painting, The Guilt of Gold Teeth. It reappeared at auction after 23 years, and was sold at US$40 million dollars with buyer's premium. 

The bidding started at US$26 million dollars. After five bids, the hammer was dropped at US$37 million dollars – US$3 million dollars below its low estimate. The winning bid was by Chairman of Christie's 20th and 21st Century Art Departments, Alex Rotter, for his client with paddle number 1893. It was sold at US$40 million dollars, with buyer’s premium.

Alex Rotter (middle)

Painted in 1982, a pivotal year of the artist’s career, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s The Guilt of Gold Teeth is filled with the enigmatic words, signs and cyphers. Basquiat carefully balanced colour and form by combining shifting fields of rich pigment with spray painted graffiti to produce one of his most intriguing and dramatic canvases. With strong visual references to his Haitian heritage, this is one of a group of works that Basquiat painted during a trip to Modena, Italy in 1982.

Measuring four metres wide and two metres tall, this is one of the largest paintings that Basquiat created in 1982. The artist arranged painterly layers of personal experience, cultural recollection, and his life in New York City, to produce a vibrant canvas.

Against a backdrop of warm shades of tangerine and blue, Basquiat presents to the audience the figure of Baron Samedi. As Master of the Dead, Samedi is an important figure in Haitian Voodoo, where his top-hat, painted face and dark frock coat, all make him an imposing protagonist.

Emerging Artists: 

Emerging artists’ paintings were hammered at multiple times their low estimates – including Nicolas Party, Hilary Pecis and Xinyi Cheng. 

Lot 3A | Nicolas Party | Landscape, Pastel on linen 

Created in 2021 
109.2 x 91.4 cm

  • Courtesy of the artist

Estimate: US$300,000 500,000

Hammer Price: US$2,700,000

Sold: US$3,270,000

Lot 2A | Hilary Pecis | Upstairs Interior, Acrylic on canvas 

Created in 2019
111.8 x 81.3 cm 

  • The Pit, Los Angeles
  • Private collection
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: US$60,000 80,000

Hammer Price: US$700,000

Sold: US$870,000

Lot 1A | Xinyi Cheng | Darling, Oil on linen 

Created in 2017 
100 x 80 cm

  • Galerie Balice Hertling, Paris
  • Private collection
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: US$30,000 40,000 

Hammer Price: US$240,000 

Sold: US$300,000

Other highlight lots: 

The two paintings below by Basquiat and Banksy were sold for more than US$10 million dollars. 

Lot 24A | Jean-Michel Basquiat | Flash in Naples, Acrylic, oil and oilstick on canvas

Created in 1983
167.6 x 152.7 cm
Provenance (Amended by The Value): 

  • Estate of the artist
  • Their sale; Sotheby's, New York, 12 May 2010, Lot 39 
  • Private collection
  • Anon. sale; Sotheby’s, New York, 16 November 2017, Lot 52 (Sold at US$8.1 million)
  • Private collection
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: US$14,000,000 – 18,000,000

Hammer Price: US$17,000,000

Sold: US$19,825,000

Lot 17A | Banksy | Sunflowers from Petrol Station, Oil on canvas in artist’s frame

Created in 2005
102.6 x 87.5 cm

  • Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, 2005

Estimate: US$12,000,000 – 18,000,000

Hammer Price: US$12,400,000

Sold: US$14,558,000

Auction Summary:

Auction House: Christie’s New York

Sale: 21st Century Evening Sale

Date: 9 November 2021

Number of lots: 40

Sale Rate: 100%

Sale Total: US$219,278,750