Block 21, an artwork and accompanying non-fungible token (NFT) “digital portrait” of Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, fetched $131,250 at an auction at Christie’s today. It was the first-ever NFT sold at a major auction house.
Fabricated by artist Ben Gentilli and attributed to the Robert Alice Project, the work is just one of a series of 40 total objects, collectively titled Portraits of a Mind. Each of these panels—imposing, circular structures with their centers removed – displays a section of Bitcoin’s v0.1.0 code. Some 322,048 digits were individually inscribed on each panel; this particular panel was selected for public auction as a reference to the eventual maximum supply of 21 million Bitcoin.
The “realized price” of the artwork, including fees, was $131,250 and the identity of the buyer wasn’t immediately known. The previous record price for an NFT was $105k, set a month ago.
It’s meant to represent what Gentilli calls an attempt at “a portrait of Satoshi Nakamoto.” Lines that run through the code, across each panel’s surface, form a kind of implied crosshairs with a central blankness as its target, in an explicit nod to the anonymity of Bitcoin’s creator.