Robbie Barrat, 22, the NFT and crypto-art star no one expected

Sent April 8, 2022, 12:16 pmUpdated April 11, 2022 at 9:06 am

When crypto artist Robbie Barrat gifted NFTs to Christie’s attendees four years ago, long before the meteoric rise of these line-of-code digital items, he had no idea his gifts would end up … in the trash. Invited to give a talk at the London auction house with the collector Jason Bailey, the artist saw 300 of his coupons, giving access to works made using artificial intelligence, “thrown” in the trash.

Only a dozen people kept these little cards and the NFT – non-fungible token, non-fungible token in French – that goes with it. A simple series of unique, tamper-proof numbers attesting to the authenticity of the image and serving as a title deed. These certificates are protected by blockchain technology, which specifically regulates cryptocurrency exchanges.

Robbie Barrat’s works, which have become extremely rare, to the point of being nicknamed the ‘Lost Robbies’, are now selling like hot cakes for six-figure sums.

“Nobody knew what NFTs were”

If he came to create these works, it was at the request of collector Jason Bailey, one of the pioneers of crypto-art and NFT, a market that has exploded in the past two years with $ 44.2 billion in transactions in 2021, according to the Chainalysis company.

“Christie asked me to speak twice in London, in 2018”when “no one knew what NFTs were”Jason Bailey explains to AFP during a video conference.

The auction house offered him at that moment to come with a ” gift “. He then invites Robie Barrat, who creates cartoons that represent the drawing of a credit card, a sort of sesame towards a work protected by NFT.

“A fool”

For this project, Robbie Barrat recovered 10,000 nudes from the classical era on his computer and modified them using a system that “fights” two algorithms to generate the final image, explains the 22-year-old artist, a student at the Beaux-Arts in Amsterdam. .

The result was a series of misshapen masses in shades of pink and brown, reminiscent of the paintings of Salvador Dali or Francis Bacon.

“I told him several times: ‘it’s the future (…) Don’t throw this sticker away’, assures Jason Bailey. They were traditional collectors, for sure they said to each other: ‘who is this crazy? Nobody collects digital art ‘”he laughs.

One of the “Lost Robbies”, called “Nude Portrait # 7frame # 64”, was sold on March 2 at the auction house Sotheby’s for 630,000 pounds, or around 750,000 euros.

No new projects

Despite his success, Robbie Barrat says he is frustrated at hearing only the price rather than “the image itself”. For the moment he does not intend to market other NFTs. “I was very lucky. If we look at the artists on OpenSea (the main cryptocurrency sales platform, ed)the vast majority have not sold a single sticker “indicate.

Four years after the Christie’s episode, Jason Bailey continues to uphold the merits of NFTs, which allow creators to collect royalties from every sale. “I fully understand and respect Robbie’s choice to distance himself from NFTs. They may not be suitable for everyone “concludes.

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