The 69 million dollar JPG

JPG or JPEG is a digital image format you may be familiar with. They are commonplace and brighten up websites, layouts and even this newspaper that you are reading. Four days ago, an artist sold a digital image he had made for the cool sum of 69 million dollars!

The artist goes by the name of Beeple, though his real name is Mike Winkelmann. The image he sold for the record-breaking price is a collage of images he had been creating since 2007. While the picture is striking (as you can see here), the money he got for it has everyone scratching their heads. After all, this was a digital picture that can be easily copied any number of times versus a real painting of which a single copy exists physically.

The NFT game

The amazing thing is that the buyer didn’t get a print of the image, or even a pen drive with the image on it. Instead he got a digital token called an NFT. NFT stands for non-fungible token. A fungible item is something with units that can be readily interchanged – like money. However, if something is non-fungible, this is impossible – it means it has unique properties so it cannot be interchanged with something else.

The NFT for the painting is like a certificate of ownership for a particular object in digital form. While many copies of the image may exist, only its owner will possess the NFT.

Digital art sold as NFTs have been selling for loads of money recently – for instance the musician Grimes (she goes by one name only) sold some of her digital art for more than $6m. Twitter creator Jack Dorsey has even put up his first tweet on the social networking platform on sale and bids have already reached $ 2.5 million dollars!