Beeple Says It’s Time to Delete Your JPEGs—Here’s Why
June 17, 2023

Beeple Says It’s Time to Delete Your JPEGs—Here’s Why

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For diehard crypto art enthusiasts, Thursday offered a glimmer of optimism reminiscent of the heyday of 2021’s NFT frenzy. “The Goose,” the colloquial name for a piece of generative NFT artwork by Dmitri Cherniak, sold for a whopping $6.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction. On-chain pieces auctioned off alongside that work collected another $4.7 million from eager bidders. 

As with most trends in crypto, however, the good cheer generated by the smash-success sale was short-lived—at least for some. 

In response to an article from ARTnews that suggested that the auction marked a possible “final hurrah” for the NFT market, influential digital artists and collectors—including Mike “Beeple” Winkelmann—took to Twitter to sarcastically indulge the story’s premise. 

“Please delete all remaining jpegs by 5pm EST,” Beeple, the artist responsible for the most expensive NFT sale of all time, wrote. “Thanks to everyone who played along with our silly little nothing!!”

Beeple pressed further: “We had some laughs, sold some monkey pictures,” he said. “It’s been a hell of [a] ride folks but this is clearly the end!!!”

The comments were an allusion to NFT art detractors, some of whom consider “blue chip” PFP collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club—which are often created by companies rather than individual artists, and tend to be treated as financialized status symbols by collectors—to not constitute legitimate art. Some such critics consider the broader NFT art market to represent a profit-focused passing fad that has already seen its best days.

Digital art advocates like the pseudonymous NFT collector 6529—yesterday’s winning “Goose” bidder, who ultimately spent over $6 million on the work—pushed back on that critique today by emphasizing the nuance and craftsmanship uniquely facilitated by generative, blockchain-backed art.

Works like “The Goose”—a.k.a. Ringers #879 from the Art Blocks project—are only created the moment they are minted as NFTs. An artist’s code can set parameters for what the work may look like, but the exact output is always randomized via the minting process.

On-chain longform generative art is an act of faith by the artist and the minter,” 6259 wrote. “Once the algorithm is committed to the blockchain, nobody knows what outputs it will produce. ‘The Goose’ represents this more clearly than any generative NFT.”

The collector, however, also couldn’t resist the temptation to comment on critical coverage of their historic purchase. 

“One last buy of NFTs, then we turn off the power switch to the blockchain,” they wrote, “and go home forever.”

Despite the enduring negative impact of the ongoing crypto winter on median NFT prices, 2022 ultimately saw about the same overall NFT trading volume as the year prior: around $25 billion. Recent months, however, have seen a marked dip in NFT market activity.

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