Blockchain token of internet source code sells for $5.4m

A non-fungible token (NFT) representing the original source code for the World Wide Web has sold for $5.4 million at Sotheby's.

An NFT is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger – or a blockchain - that certifies the uniqueness of a digital asset.

The token was created by Tim Berners-Lee, who drafted the original proposition for the internet in 1989 while he was working at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

The proceeds of the sale are set to go towards charitable causes chosen by Berners-Lee and his wife.

The NFT includes time-stamped files of the original source code, an animated video of the code being written, a letter from Berners-Lee, and a digital poster of the code created by Berners-Lee.

Half of the bids came from first time Sotheby’s customers.

In March, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of the first ever tweet for $2.9 million.

Blockchain is becoming a more established part of the luxury goods market which Sotheby’s operates in; earlier this month the auction house offered up a rare diamond, valued at up to $15 million, for purchase with cryptocurrencies.

The current record for an NFT sale is held by a piece of digital art by artist Beeple, which sold for $69.3 million at auction house Christie’s.

"The symbolism, the history, the fact that they're coming from the creator is what makes them valuable – and there are lots of people who collect things for exactly those reasons," said Cassandra Hatton, global head of science and popular culture at Sotheby's before the sale.

"We have placed it in a public forum, we have sold it at basically no reserve - the bidding started at $1,000 - and we let the market decide what the value is going to be.”
She added: “There have been multiple bidders who have all agreed that it's valuable."

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