Grimes is the latest artist to get in on the NFT gold rush, selling around $6 million worth of digital artworks after putting them up for auction yesterday.
A series of 10 pieces — some one of a kind, others with thousands of copies — went up for sale on Nifty Gateway on November 28th. The highest-selling piece was a one-of-a-kind video called “Death of the Old” that involves flying cherubs, a cross, a sword, and glowing light that’s set to an original song by Grimes. The winning bidder took it for nearly $389,000.
The bulk of the sales came from two pieces with thousands of copies available that sold for $7,500 each. The works, titled “Earth” and “Mars,” are both short videos featuring their titular planet with a giant cherub over it holding a weapon, also set to original music. Nearly 700 copies were sold for a total of $5.18 million before sales closed.
If you’re totally perplexed as to what’s happening here, welcome to the party. After slowly growing in popularity over the past several months, NFTs exploded over the past week or so as the hot new tech thing. The tech — which stands for “non-fungible token” — allows buyers to purchase ownership of a digital good, usually an image, animation, or video, in the form of a unique digital token living on a blockchain.
NFTs allow buyers to support artists, but it also gives buyers a couple things in return. Buyers may not get to hang these digital pieces on their wall, but they might get bragging rights for purchasing a famous work like Nyan Cat or something from a popular artist like Grimes. NFTs are also a speculative asset, and many marketplaces have popped up that offer the ability to resell them — theoretically for a lot more, so long as the hype around NFTs continues.
Grimes isn’t the only artist to have made out big on NFTs already. The digital artist Beeple sold $3.5 million worth of art through Nifty Gateway last year. The artist behind Nyan Cat made around $600,000. And the electronic musician 3LAU reportedly made more than $11 million from album sales and digital goods just this weekend.
Nifty Gateway said that an undisclosed percentage of Grimes’ sales would go to Carbon180, a nonprofit focused on removing carbon from the atmosphere. The donations may be meant to address one of the major problems that NFTs share with other blockchain technologies — they’re hugely inefficient in their electricity use.
Each of the works is part of Grimes’ “WarNymph” collection, made in collaboration with her brother Mac Boucher. Grimes debuted War Nymph in 2019 and initially used the “digital persona” slash “alternative psyche” to promote her album Miss Anthropocene. War Nymph’s appearance has changed over time, morphing into the vaguely demonic winged baby seen in these NFTs last January, shortly before she confirmed her pregnancy.