rior to his death in October 2020, artist MF DOOM launched augmented reality versions of his iconic masks. Before the debut, an Instagram video was premiered which showed the masks being worn in augmented reality by stars including Jack Nicholson in The Shining, to Tyler, the Creator, Kim Kardashian, and the Mona Lisa.
One-off signed editions of the virtual masks are being auctioned off by Illust Space, independent hip hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, and the rapper’s widow, Jasmine Dumile.
The auction tapped into one the art world’s current biggest trends, taking the form of an NFT (or non-fungible token, an asset with a unique digital identity). As well as the buyer receiving exclusive rights to the original artwork, they also have the ability to place it in the world to be viewed by others, similar to how AR exhibitions have seen the work of Olafur Eliasson, Cao Fei, Alicja Kwade, and KAWS go on public display during lockdown.
According to Illust Space, one of the MF DOOM’s masks, titled “Black Sludge”, has fetched upwards of 9.5 Ether with 90% of proceeds going to the musician’s estate. The estate will also get 10% royalty on other artworks sold, as well as individual donations.
The auction opened on March 11 at 4 pm Pacific time and concluded on March 12 at 10 p.m. on the Illust Space website. According to Illust Space, one of the MF DOOM’s masks, the highest bid garnered was roughly $350,000, but another AR mask, which is still taking bids for a few days, is up to nearly $800,000. In all, the auction has raised roughly $1.6 million, and that number is likely to rise in the coming days
In just the last month, artist Grimes has auctioned off her cryptoart for over $5.8 million, while a blockchain company has set fire to a $95,000 Banksy and turned that into an NFT, declaring it: “an expression of art itself.” And only last week, digital artist Beeple sold the NFT artwork “Everyday: The First 5000 Days” (2021) for an insane $69.3 million, making it the third most expensive work by a living artist.