A non-expendable token showing a white man being auctioned off as a slave will sell at Christie’s, for a price that could run into the millions, in New York City next week.
“It was immediately clear that it would be an important work of art both for its contemporary and historical commentary and for the fascinating combination of disciplines,” Barrett White of Christie’s Americas told The Post.
“White Male for Sale” is the brainchild of provocative artist Dread Scott. The work consists of a 70-second looping video showing an average-looking white man in a white shirt and black pants, expressionless, standing on an auction block in the middle of a busy Brooklyn intersection.
Black pedestrians wearing coronavirus masks walk past him. The scene was filmed at Flatbush and Church Avenues.
“The White Male for Sale NFT makes the medium itself an inherent and essential part of the conceptual project,” Scott, 56, said in an explanation of his work on Instagram. “People are inherently non-expendable. But as slavery became an integral part of developing capitalism, slaveholders sought to commodify people and make them fungible.
An NFT is a unique, non-transferable unit of data that can be stored on a digital ledger known as a blockchain, the same technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Christie’s declined to speculate on the sale price, but the auction house has carved out a niche in the burgeoning US NFT market. In March, the company sold an NFT of digital artist Mike Winkelmann (aka Beeple) for $69 million.
Scott did not respond to The Post’s multiple requests for comment, but told Art Net that his work could be worth more than $2 million, suggesting that he has made peace with at least some parts of capitalism.
“While Male for Sale” will be auctioned on October 1 at Christie’s auction house at 20 Rockefeller Plaza.
The work has already generated controversy among other artists, such as Manhattan painter David Paul Kay, who criticized the NFT as “cheap” and “ridiculous.”
“He’s just trying to collect. This is not fixing the problem you are talking about. It’s literally making it worse,” Kay, who is white, told The Post. “This guy is just an opportunist. I don’t like criticizing other artists. I do not like to do that.
It’s far from Scott’s first controversy. Previous works featured on his website include “Burning the Constitution” and “Perpetual 911,” which repeatedly depicts a plane crashing and then reversing out of 2 World Trade Center.
“I don’t accept the economic foundation, the social relations, or the ruling ideas of the United States,” Scott said in a 2018 TED Talk.
A 1989 piece, “What’s the Proper Way to Display an American Flag?” it featured the flag placed on the floor so that people could step on it. The display was condemned by then-President George H.W. Bush after being exhibited in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute. The Senate later passed a bill prohibiting the piece from being displayed again.
“I signed [the bill]. We don’t need people desecrating the flag. It is wrong and morally reprehensible,” retired New York Senator Al D’Amato told The Post.