In 2005, street artist Banksy hacked off a piece of rock from the West Bank Barrier built by the Israelis that encircles the occupied Palestinian territories, using it as the focal point for a new series dubbed "a treasure hunt".
On the underside of the rock, Banksy inscribed a secret word. The first person to find the rock and email the concealed word to the artist was to become the owner of a certified original piece of art.
After its emergence in Palestine, the artwork Spike was traded between a number of private collectors, until it was exposed during one of the first Banksy expositions to run in the US.
That New York appearance was the last time Spike was seen in public. Today, in partnership with Valuart, a start-up company that allows art collectors to connect with artists selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the piece has been reimagined as a digital original.
The owner of Spike, Vittorio Grigolo, features in the Spike NFT artwork with the Italian tenor's stirring tones providing the background music as the rock soars through the air in a CGI-created piece. The rock lands in the water, and disappears before emerging to spin in circles.
Grigolo said 50 per cent of proceeds from the auction sale will go to charity.
Winning bidder will take ownership of Spike NFT including the underlying file in ultra-high resolution, a physical certificate of authenticity and a limited edition catalogue from Valuart, created specifically for the NFT release.
A private visit to Valuart’s NFT gallery in Paradiso, Switzerland to see the physical Spike artwork is included for the new owner, who will also be invited to attend an exclusive dinner with the company's founders and owner of the original artwork.
The auction had a bid of 1.5 Ethereum ($3,095) on Friday 5.30pm UAE time, with six days still left for bidding.
Banksy and NFTs
The digital creation of Spike is not the first time Banksy pieces have been involved in the digital art world.
In March this year, a blockchain company bought a Banksy artwork to turn it into an NFT. Entitled Morons, the original print cost $95,000, and was subsequently burnt on a live broadcast on Twitter as part of the NFT.
The print went up in flames and the NFT was sold to an anonymous buyer for around $380,000 in cryptocurrency.
In May, auction house Sotheby's accepted $12.9 million in cryptocurrency for the street artist's Love is in the Air. It was the first time a major auction house accepted digital currency for a physical artwork.