Oct 15th, 1958
Oct 26th, 2021
The interplay between the high-end art world and digital art, more specifically NFTs, continues to spread at an unprecedented pace. While NFT collections appear and disappear as fast as they entered in the blockchain realm, several monumental collections carry great historical significance for the entire NFT movement. MoonCats, one of the first generative art projects, is one of them.
On Oct 26, 2021, at Sotheby’s Natively Digital 1.2, MoonCat #10 became the first MoonCat to be sold at a public auction house. It now has an everlasting place in the early history of NFTs. MoonCat #10 also has the distinction of being the first MoonCat to be offered for sale with a branded digital accessory.
Sotheby’s first auction under the newly branded Sotheby’s Metaverse was called Natively Digital 1.2 and consisted entirely of NFTs. The event centered on the individuals who are the primary drivers and backers of the NFT ecosystem: the collectors. They have been essential to the development of the industry by acting as curators of emerging artists at early stages of their careers. This breakthrough auction was built on collections from influential people within the NFT space: well-known figures like Paris Hilton, Steve Aoki, and Pranksy.
A few weeks before the exhibition was announced, Sotheby’s contacted Jake Gallen, widely regarded as one of the notable experts on MoonCats and other pre-2018 NFT collections, to inquire about the possibility of selling a handful of his “Day One” MoonCats on Twitter. The first day of minting in 2017 was referred to as Day One, and it consisted of the 492 MoonCats minted in the first 24 hours.
Gallen had accumulated five Day Ones, including two spots in the top 10. Sotheby’s and Gallen agreed that the exhibition would feature lots #10, #183, and #220.
When Sotheby’s hosted its inaugural black-tie gala on October 15, 1958, it was a watershed moment in the history of the art business. The event was such a huge success that it served as a template for all subsequent auctions, all the way up to current day.
In a post-war society, the significant Goldschmidt sale that took place in 1958 was the first evening auction since the 18th century, and it ushered in a new era for the art market. It only took 21 minutes to sell seven paintings, including works by Manet, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. During the auction, the record for a painting was broken three times, bringing the price to a new high.
Considering these significant aspects and the importance of Sotheby’s in the art world, their 2021 event aimed to be as innovative as the auction held in 1958.
On July 7, 2021, Ponderware released MoonCatBoutique, an ERC998-compatible feature of the ERC721 “Official MoonCats” Wrapper that enables NFTs to own NFTs and other digital assets.
Digivatar, one of the most well-known artists working in the MoonCat Eco-System and a fast up-and-coming artist in the NFT sphere, and Jake Gallen (CatDad), collaborated to develop the idea for the digital on-chain attachment.
All boutique accessories are kept “On-Chain” and are customizable assets. A MoonCat owner may choose which tier an accessory resides on, with support for up to 65,000 accessories in front of and behind a MoonCat. Every boutique item acquired by a MoonCat is theirs permanently and cannot be transferred. Once acquired, these accessories may be shown or withdrawn from the MoonCats’ virtual layout at any time.
MoonCat #10, or the eleventh minted MoonCat, comes with an accessory depicting the inaugural Sotheby’s Evening “Event” Auction, held in London in 1958. The accessory’s background has many silhouettes of different MoonCats, as well as the Sotheby’s logo over the top. This memorable moment, designed by one of the community’s favorite boutique designer Digivatar, marks cooperation between two innovative organizations.
Digivatar materialized his vision in the MoonCats artwork, which was then subjected to a grueling round of modifications before ultimately receiving the green light from Jake Gallen and the Sotheby’s team.
Converging his creative spirit to bring MoonCat #10 to life, Digivatar has always been an innovator. Since his early twenties, he has been a creative in the advertising and marketing industry. He rose through the ranks of the creative ladder, working as a creative lead at AD agencies representing Fortune 500 firms such as Disney, ESPN, Verizon, Jack Daniels, and GM, among others.
Digivatar aspires to push the boundaries of technology and use it in novel ways to pave the road for future artists. To add a profound layer to this digital work, Digivatar has included a few not-so-subtle “Easter eggs” throughout the artwork, containing a plethora of hidden references that have been tucked away in this creative realm. For instance, he placed his signature in the center of the canvas, precisely over the auctioneer and the framed artwork.
He also hid 17 MoonCats in the painting. The number 17 has a significant symbolic meaning: the MoonCats website launched on August 9, 2017, and 2017 is widely regarded as the year when generative art on the internet came into being. When thinking of the accessory for MoonCat #10, it was only right that Gallen and Digivatar should embrace that historic day and dress him in the same flair and grace.
Digivatar aimed to further push the limits of the NFT sector, so he hid an additional Easter egg, of which neither Sotheby’s nor Jake Gallen were aware until after the sale was completed and the transaction was finalized. In the upper right-hand corner, he inserted a CryptoPhunk, #8770.
CryptoPhunks are NFTs rooted in conceptual art. They are a commentary on CryptoPunks, which face right. CryptoPhunks face left like the Mona Lisa and are intended to poke fun at people in the NFT community who attempt to apply old-fashioned art world norms to the nascent NFT area.
CryptoPhunks received a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) following a complaint by CryptoPunks’ owner, Larva Labs. But the project did not die. The community rallied to keep CryptoPhunks alive, and Not Larva Labs was born. This no-fee marketplace lets Phunk owners trade their Phunks. CryptoPhunk #8770 was the first Phunk to be sold at a public auction (since Digivatar sneaked it in), and it now has a significant place in history because of its boldness. Adding to the story is CryptoPhunk #8770 is owned by Pauly0x. One of the most vocal and outspoken members of the NFT community.
Ultimately, Digivatar expressed his enthusiasm at being a part of the Sotheby’s pioneering initiative in uniting the blockchain realm with the art world: “I cannot believe I am able to be a part of this Sotheby’s event as an artist by just doing what I love and pushing to bring value to the MoonCat Community.”
Time lapse of Digivatar inserting the Phunk in the Sotheby’s Accessory Item for Mooncat #10
MoonCat #10 entered the last day of the auction much lower than the projections, which had indicated it would sell between $120,000 and $180,000 dollars. A fresh potential buyer with the username Meowth entered the fray during the last seconds of the auction and won for $56,700.
MoonCat #10 was initially acquired by Gallen for 32 ETH, which had a trading value of about $155,000 on the day of the sale. As a result of the transaction, Gallen experienced a loss of over $100,000.
After the auction, it was discovered that the new owner, Meowth, was MoonCat2878, an early MoonCat adopter but also a prolific NFT collector. MoonCat2878 had been keeping an eye on the bidding. They saw that Jake was about to suffer a significant loss, so they swooped in at the last second to make the buy.
MoonCat2878 contacted Gallen via the MoonCat discord and returned the MoonCat for the cost of the premium, estimated at 20% at Sotheby’s. Thus, Gallen owed MoonCat2868 $11,340 on the purchase.
MoonCat #10 was returned to Jake Gallen’s wallet at 6:40 p.m. on November 13, 2021, roughly 18 days after the close of the auction.
MoonCat #10 is one of the most sought-after and distinctive MoonCats in the collection. It will go down in blockchain history, trailblazing many firsts in the NFT space.
Contacts:MoonCat #10: Twitter | WikiDigivatar: Web | TwitterJake Gallen: Web | Twitter
See the original listing