Last month, Christie’s single-lot sale dedicated to a digital collage fetched a whopping US$69.3m. The crypto art, titled Everydays: The First 5000 Days is crowned as the most expensive non-fungible token (NFT) art ever sold at auction and Beeple, the creator of the artwork, is now the third most valuable living artist, beating out blue-chip artists and sensational names alike.
Just as auction houses are all eager to match that success, Phillips is also tapping into the NFT arena for the first time. From today until April 23, the auction house is offering Mad Dog Jones’ multi-generational NFT art titled REPLICATOR. The online bidding will take place in USD, but the auction house will accept USD or Ethereum as a form of payment.
For those who still think the Beeple’s JPG was nothing more than a hype, REPLICATOR generates new artworks every 28 days - a ground-breaking crypto concept that allows the digital artwork to replicate itself.
Still image from the first generation of REPLCATOR
Artist Michah Dowbak, also known as Mad Dog Jones
NFT, or non-fungible token, is the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrency, which stores decentralized data permanently in a sequence of blocks that form a time-stamped and immutable chain. From a secondary art market perspective, such records as transaction details, provenance, and the rightful ownership of an artwork are secured and impossible to alter.
The distress of authenticity and ownership articulated around digital art had long been a hindrance for it to compete with traditional art, yet the transparency offered by the blockchain technology, and perhaps more importantly - a flood of interest for the novel artistic medium fuel the burgeoning metaverse.
Other works by Mad Dog Jones
According to artist Michah Dowbak, aka Mad Dog Jones, “REPLICATOR is the story of a machine through time. It is a reflection on forms of past groundbreaking innovation and serves as a metaphor for modern technology’s continuum. I’m interested to see how collectors will respond as the work evolves and the NFTs in their possession continue to create new generations.” he said.
The multi-generational concept of the present work, which depicts a photocopy machine in an office setting, is an “NFT experience” comprising seven unique generations of artworks. Generation one, to be sold at auction, will produce six NFTs at the rate of one every four weeks, with each generation being unique from those before and after it. The artist revealed in a Clubhouse session that the each replicant will contain slight variations from one another, with the photocopier remains as the subject matter throughout.
Each subsequent generation will produce one less artwork in its lifetime until it reaches Generation seven, which will no longer create new NFTs. In theory, the owner should have a total of 1,957 NFT artworks. Yet in reality, there is a 99% chance that the total number of works produced will fall between 75 to 300.
Just like a photocopier, REPLCATOR jams too every now and then. Each generation from two to six may have up to three “jam artworks,” each unique to its generation and cannot further reproduce into subsequent generations.
The complete replication process takes about a year from start to finish. While the owner can sell the artwork before the process concludes, once sold, the new owner will be the one who possesses all subsequent replicants and jam artworks generated.
Mad Dog Jones at "AFTERL-IFE WORLD" exhibition in Japan held in 2019
Just two months ago, Mad Dog Jones’ Crash + Burn, which consisted of three artworks, was sold for US$4.3m on NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway.
Two of the artworks in the drop - or release, were “open editions” - Déjà Vu and Why would I care I'm just a cat? The former work sold 909 editions, and the latter, 328 - which brought in a total of US$3.9m.
A similar comparison of “open editions” would be prints in the traditional art market, where multiple editions of the same work are available for purchase for a specific timeframe, in this case, five minutes.
The third work in the series, Boardwalk, is a unique one, which was sold for US$388,888.
Boardwalk, sold for US$388,888 on Nifty Gateway
Why would I care I'm just a cat? sold for US$2,500 each
Mad Dog Jones, is known for his cyberpunk and dystopian imagery that explores themes of beauty, nature and technology. The musician-turned-artist began posting his works on his Instagram, where his predominantly neon-toned creations have attracted more than 270K followers in just four years.
Under the influence of his father, who is a stained-glass artist, Mad Dog Jones’ works often follow similar colorways. Elements such as buildings, street signs, subway, and motorcycle helmets are often rendered into a cyberpunk scene interwoven with stylistic cues from Japanese animation.
The cyberpunk vibe that often runs though his works
As of April 12, the total sales volume generated by Mad Dog Jones, according to Cryptoart.io, has reached nearly 7,000 ether - the equivalent of about US$14.8m. The figures have placed the artist in the fifth place on the list, among leading digital artists like Trevor Jones, PAK (whose work is currently available in a Sotheby’s and Nifty Gateway collaborative sale), and of course, Beeple, who tops the list.
The concentrated NFT community is not the only advocates of Mad Dog Jones’ works though, the artist’s stardom is also seen in the commercial world, with his works making appearances during a Maroon 5 Superbowl half-time show and a campaign for Reebok and UFC champion Conor McGregor, among others.
Mad Dog Jones’ work for a Maroon 5 Superbowl half-time show
Another piece he did for the Conor McGregor Reebok campaign
The NFT technology also acts as smart contracts, in which the artist continues to get a cut of any future sales whenever there is a transfer of title, typically 10%. While some may still be skeptical about the speculative market, many auction houses have jumped on the bandwagon amid the NFT wave.
For instance, Sotheby’s will offer its first watch series accompanied by NFT, the SPYMASTER timepiece, estimated at HK$170,000 - 300,000 (US$21,000 - 38,000). Its rival Christie’s, meanwhile, has announced that a set of nine CryptoPunks will go under the hammer in its upcoming sale - and it’s not just any sales, but the house’s marquee 21st Century Evening Sale in New York, slated for May 13. So for now, it’s safe to say that the fad is here to stay.
SPYMASTER, estimated at HK$170,000 - 300,000 (US$21,000 - 38,000) | Sotheby's Hong Kong
A set of nine CryptoPunks | Christie's New York
Auction house: Phillips New York
Sale: MDJ x Phillips A Multigenerational NFT (online sale)
Dates: April 12-23, 2021