Emily Ratajkowski sold an NFT for $175,000 in an auction at Christie’s on Friday afternoon.
The token is tied to an image called “Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution,” which takes its title from a piece Ratajkowski wrote for The Cut late last year.
In the essay, she describes the uncanny experience of realizing one of her Instagram posts had been repurposed by the artist Richard Prince for his controversial “Instagram Paintings” exhibition. The works in the show were essentially large, printed versions of popular Instagram posts; one of Ratajkowski’s, which was displayed without her express permission, was priced at $90,000.
“Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution” is a composite photo of Ratajkowski standing in her New York home, in front of another Prince piece (also featuring Ratajowski) currently hanging in her Los Angeles home.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a form of cryptocurrency that can be sold as proof of ownership for files on the internet. They’ve become a popular way to monetize images and short video clips in recent months—the artist behind the early-2010s meme “Nyan Cat” recently sold an NFT for nearly $600,000, in what he’s characterized as a form of credit for his work.
Ratajkowski has framed her NFT auction in similar terms. “As somebody who has built a career off of sharing my image, so many times — even though that’s my livelihood — it’s taken from me and then somebody else profits off of it,” she told The New York Times last month. “To me, this digital marketplace is a way to communicate this specific idea that couldn’t exist in a different way.”
— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) May 14, 2021
Christie’s said it planned to accept payment for the NFT in fiat money, rather than ETH, the cryptocurrency that’s used for transactions on the Ethereum blockchain.
Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to clarify the origin of Ratajkowski's NFT.
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