Cryptocurrency investors and digital collectors have considered the original source code for the web more valuable than the first tweet but less desirable than pixelated punk.
A “Non-fungible testimony” representing the invention of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s website was sold Wednesday at auction for $ 5.4 million. The winning bidder was not immediately identified.
The Sotheby’s auction classifies digital art, called “That changed everything”, among the most valuable NFTs ever sold. However, the high-profile item fell tens of millions of dollars below the high-water mark set by digital artist Beeple three months ago, amid signs that interest in virtual collectibles is already may be declining.
The final value exceeds the $ 2.9 million price paid for an NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, which the Twitter co-founder auctioned off in March. But it’s considerably less than $ 69 million cryptocurrency inverter He paid for Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” in March.
Earlier this month, a CryptoPunk, one of the first digital collectibles series, sold for $ 11.8 million at another Sotheby’s NFT auction. Two more CryptoPunks, which look like a graphic from a first video game, have sold for more than $ 7 million each.
The British scientist’s batch included a time-stamped file archive for the WorldWideWeb browser, a 30-minute animation and a digital “poster” of the code and a letter from Berners-Lee explaining the background to his invention.
Berners-Lee said in a statement that the process had “offered me the opportunity to look back to the time I first sat down to write this code 30 years ago and reflect on how far the web has come from since then and where it could go in the next decades ”.
“I am delighted that Rosemary’s initiatives and support will benefit from the sale of this NFT,” he said.
Although the inventor of the website compared the testimony to an autographed book, Sotheby’s expected collectors to value the digital element in terms similar to a scientific artifact.
Berners-Lee’s code package exceeded the sums paid for the manuscripts by Alan Turing and Albert Einstein in previous auctions of scientific records. The price matched that of an NFT artwork by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, which sold for $ 5.4 million in April.
More than 50 bids were made from around the world during the week-long Berners-Lee NFT auction. “The huge reception we have in response to the auction is a fitting tribute to the genius of a man who changed our world forever,” said Cassandra Hatton, world head of science and popular culture at Sotheby’s.
NFTs use blockchain technology to bring scarcity, traceability and authentication to the digital world, where media can be copied endlessly.
The technical foundations of the web were never patented, but were released free of charge into the public domain by Cern, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, where Berners-Lee worked when the idea came to him.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on digital collecting so far this year, although activity has declined since the peak of March, along with sell off in cryptocurrencies and a number of regulatory restrictions on bitcoin.