NFT Based on Banksy’s ‘Spike,’ Minted Without Artist’s Involvement, Sells for Over $150,000

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A non-fungible token based on the Banksy piece “Spike” has sold for over $150,000 via an auction on Valuart, a new platform that mints licensed NFTs derived from original artworks.

Banksy, notably, was not involved in the sale. Instead, the “Spike” NFT was minted and sold by Vittorio Grigòlo, an opera singer and Valuart co-founder, who is in possession of the actual “Spike” piece. Banksy created “Spike” in 2005, acquiring a piece of Israel’s West Bank Barrier, writing a secret word on it, then launching a scavenger hunt; the person who found the rock and emailed Banksy the secret word (“Spike”) would get to keep the piece.

As ArtNews previously reported, “Spike” changed hands a few times before Grigòlo came to own it. At the end of July, Grigòlo announced that he had re-rendered “Spike” as a piece of CGI artwork, in which the rock floats in space while Grigòlo performs the Puccini aria “E lucevan le stelle.”

Grigòlo minted this animation as an NFT and ultimately sold it for 65 ethereum, which is approximately $152,457. Along with receiving the NFT, the auction winner will get the chance to see the real “Spike” piece during a private visit to the Valuart NFT Gallery in Switzerland, along with a dinner with the Valuart founders. Additionally, per a press release, 50% of the revenues deriving from NFT drop will be donated to charities, starting with Doctors Without Borders.

As a press release notes, Valuart plans to push forward with projects similar to the “Spike” NFT, reimagining famous pieces of art and giving new collectors the chance to acquire them. Per ArtNews, however, some have raised questions over whether sales like the “Spike” NFT could give uninvolved artists the grounds to sue.

Jeff Gluck, a copyright lawyer for CXIP Labs, said, “If Banksy has not given his permission for this NFT, then it could appear to be unauthorized and illegitimate. The rights to create an NFT of an artwork are held by the creator, the copyright holder — not the person who possesses the artwork.”

One of Valuart’s co-founders, Etan Genini, rebuffed that possibility, saying the company “did not copy” the Banksy piece, but rather “re-elaborated on property we own.” He continued, “We are not taking the piece of art making a digital copy. We digitized the property we own and the NFT is an installation as a CGI video production that we’ve worked with artists to create.”

A representative for Banksy did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.