The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has sold an NFT of the web’s source code for $5.4 million at fine art auction house Sotheby’s.
The piece titled ‘This Changed Everything’ includes a time-stamped file of the source code’s 9,555 lines, a high-fidelity image, a 30-minute animation of the code being written, along with a letter written by Berners-Lee.
While $5.4M is a significant sum, it’s a far cry from the $69 million record set in March for Beeple’s Everydays and less than some observers had predicted. Delphi Digital’s Piers Kicks said he’d been expecting a sale around $10M.
According to Berners-Lee, he and his wife will donate the proceeds of the auction to causes supported by the family.
In a statement to the press released by Sotheby’s, Berners-Lee discussed the future of the internet and expressed his hope that it would remain open to allow it to be a continual source of creativity, technical innovation, and social transformation. These ideals were the inspiration behind Berners-Lee move into the NFT space, he said:
“NFTs, be they artworks or digital artifacts like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists. They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web.”
The high-profile auction of the web’s source code isn’t the only multi-million dollar sale of a digital artwork hosted by a premier auction house this week. On June 30th, Christie’s Auction house closed a $2.1 million auction for the works of transgender digital art FEWOCiOUS.
The NFT “Hello, i’m Victor (FEWOCiOUS) and This Is My Life,” includes five individual pieces each depicting a year in the artist’s formative years from ages 14 to 18 as he transitioned to male. The works illustrate the artist’s struggles with loneliness and identity as he strove to become an artist.
The trajectory of the young artist’s career is indicative of the upward mobility the digital market offers to digital artists. FEWOCiOUS made his first tokenized sale on the marketplace SuperRare for $6,000 in September of last year and was soon selling artworks valued at over $1 million on Nifty Gateway.
Data provided by Cryptoart.io shows that combined sales from the digital art markets have shrunk to $18.3 million in June from their peak of $205 million in March. Winklevoss-owned marketplace Nifty Gateway saw a 94% decline in sales from a peak of $145 million to $7.6 million.
Some digital asset platforms have prospered. Relative newcomer to the digital art space, hic et nunc, has seen sales grow 276% from $717,000 in March to $2.7 million in June, capturing capturing 14.7% of the market.