Art lovers were left to stare blankly after a receipt for a piece of "invisible art" sold for nearly $1.2 million at auction.
A private European collector purchased the more than 60-year-old receipt for French artist Yves Klein's "invisible art" with a bid of $1,151,467.40, exceeding the expected bid of $551,000, according to United Press International.
"Yves Klein's work stands alone as the original exemplar of what exploration is possible through this technology," the auction catalog reads.
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The receipt, dated Dec. 7, 1959, was part of Klein's imaginary art series Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, in which buyers would see empty, vacant rooms filled with "pictorial sensibility in its pure state," according to Sotheby's. The unusual art form foreshadowed the rise of nonfungible tokens, also known as NFTs, the auction house said.
"Some have likened the transfer of a zone of sensitivity and the invention of receipts as an ancestor of the NFT, which itself allows the exchange of immaterial works," the auction catalog reads. "If we add that Klein kept a register of the successive owners of the 'zones,' it is easy to find here another revolutionary concept — the 'blockchain.'"
The original NFT? Sotheby's to offer a receipt for an invisible work by Yves Klein for €500,000 https://t.co/VZ1tBTIOPI #Art #ArtLovers pic.twitter.com/KiwbnCwZNf— Art + Socialmedia & Technology (@artsocialtech) March 23, 2022
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Antiques dealer Jacques Kugel was the original purchaser of the receipt, which is part of more than 100 items that are being auctioned off from former gallery owner Loic Malle's "Only Time Will Tell" collection.