Virtual Art and Non-fungible Tokens

38 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2021

See all articles by Lawrence J. Trautman

Lawrence J. Trautman

Prairie View A&M University - College of Business

Date Written: April 11, 2021


During early 2021 reports emerge of newfound excitement in the art world as a landmark sale of digital art for $ 69 million takes place. Fueled in part by the wealth recently created from digital currencies, major art dealers such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s embrace this new development. What then are nonfungible tokens, how is this related to the blockchain and what do we know about this ancient market for digital art? It now appears that digital art can be added to the growing list of uses for blockchain technology now becoming a part of modern life.

This article proceeds in seven parts. First, we discuss the new and explosive market for digital art. Second, we explore the evolution of the digital world and virtual property. Third, is an explanation and historical account of the blockchain and virtual currencies. Fourth, we explore nonfungible tokens. Fifth, we present a few thoughts about the future of digital property. And last, we conclude. This dramatic extention of blockchain and other digital technology to the world of art and music represents a new and exciting platform for creative expression. We believe this paper is a valuable addition to the literature by providing a readable introduction and overview of what is now known about the likely impact of blockchain technology and nonfungible tokens to music and art. This important development should have significant impact on the future of innovation and property law.

Keywords: art, Beeple, bitcoin, blockchain, Christie’s, collectibles, copyright, crypto asset, cryptocurrencies, digital art, ethereum, music business and publishing, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), online payment systems, property, Second Life, Sotheby’s, synthetic worlds, virtual property, virtual real estate

JEL Classification: G14, G12

Suggested Citation

Trautman, Lawrence J., Virtual Art and Non-fungible Tokens (April 11, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Lawrence J. Trautman (Contact Author)

Prairie View A&M University - College of Business ( email )

Prairie View, TX
United States

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