A non-fungible token featuring a white man being auctioned as a slave will be sold at Christie’s — for a price that could reach millions — in New York City next week.
“It was immediately clear it would be a major artwork both for its contemporary and historical commentary as well as the fascinating combination of disciplines,” Barrett White of Christie’s Americas told The Post.
“White Male for Sale” is the creation of artist-provocateur Dread Scott. The work consists of a 70-second looped video showing an average-looking white man in white button-down shirt and black pants, expressionless, standing on an auction block in the middle of a busy Brooklyn intersection.
Black pedestrians wearing coronavirus masks pass him by. The scene was shot 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-fungible. But as slavery became an integral part of developing capitalism, enslavers sought to turn people into commodities and make them fungible.”
An NFT is a unique and non-transferable data unit that can be stored on a digital ledger known as a blockchain — the same technology which powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Christie’s refused to speculate about what it might sell for but the auction house has developed a niche in America’s burgeoning NFT marketplace. In March the company sold an NFT by the digital artist Mike Winkelmann (aka Beeple) for $69 million.
Scott did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Post, but he told Art Net that his work could be worth north of $2 million — suggesting he has made peace with at least some parts of capitalism.
“While Male for Sale” will be auctioned on Oct. 1 in at Christie’s auction house at 20 Rockefeller Plaza.
The work has already stirred controversy among fellow artists, like Manhattan painter David Paul Kay, who blasted the NFT as “cheap” and “ridiculous.”
“He is just trying to cash out. This is not fixing the problem he is 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 to bash other artists. I don’t like to do that.”
It’s far from Scott’s first controversy. Past works featured on his website include “Burning the Constitution,” and “Perpetual 911,” which repeatedly shows a plane crashing into and then reversing out of 2 World Trade Center.
“I don’t accept the economic foundation, the social relations or the governing ideas of America,” Scott said in a 2018 TED talk.
A 1989 piece, “What Is the Proper Way to Display an American Flag?” featured the flag laid out on the floor so people could step on it. The exhibit was condemned by then-President George H.W. Bush after being displayed in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute. The Senate subsequently passed a bill forbidding the piece from being shown again.
“I signed on to [the bill]. We don’t need people desecrating the flag. It’s wrong and morally reprehensible,” retired New York Sen. Al D’Amato told The Post.