It seems like each ensuing day following Christie’s historic $69 million sale of digital artist Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” has uncovered another extremely shady wrinkle to the story, and today is no exception. A very simple, cursory examination of Beeple’s “Everydays” artwork reveals a whole host of juvenile, trollish bigoted artwork including racist Asian caricatures, homophobic language, and Hillary Clinton wearing a grill. All in all, not terribly surprising from the dude who practically admitted on live TV that this whole NFT hype is a huge scam.
Easy enough to find on your own — The controversial content is difficult to hone in via Christie’s preview of the artwork, but as Artnet’s Ben Davis pointed out earlier this week, you don’t need close to $70 million to “appreciate” Beeple’s artistic progression... you can just go to his damn site and look at everything yourself. Which is exactly what Davis did for all 5,000 images. Would it surprise you to learn that an extremely online artist using the pseudonym Beeple and hosting his work at www.beeple-crap.com has drawn some extremely questionable content in the past?
Content Warning: shitty, 4chan edgelord artwork below.
So, wait. Are we to believe that Christie’s Auction House is not only elitist, but coasting along without feeling to need to do due diligence on racist, transphobic, classist, homophobic content? Say it ain’t so.
How did this go unnoticed? — Of course, the most obvious question here is: How this was allowed to happen in the first place? The answer, unfortunately, is equally obvious: $69 million. “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” is currently the third-most-expensive piece of art ever sold by a living artist, and it’s mostly comprised of daily, half-thought-out sketches from an artist trying (and, by self-admission, often failing) to not “suck ass.” It’s an admission he makes good on repeatedly: as Artnet’s Davis points out, “we’re talking commentary that at its sharpest is Beeple dreaming up an image of Lincoln spanking a nude Baby Trump.”
But subtlety is clearly not what Beeple or his hype-men compatriots/financiers/potential securities fraud accomplices like MetaKovan (aka the buyer, Vignesh Sundaresan) are good at. They’re good at exploiting Internet trends and reaping the benefits while most everyone else loses out. In the end, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” appears to say more about the worst aspects of the art world and capitalism than any one (or 5,000) of Beeple’s doodles: gatekeeping, exploitative, bigoted, and very, very tiresome.