Gaudí and his Casa Batlló, in an innovative reinterpretation, went up for auction at Christie's on Tuesday night, at its headquarters in New York's Rockefeller Plaza. The NFT, a digital piece created by Turkish-American new media artist Refik Anadol on the facade of that iconic 1906 building, achieved a final price of $1,380,000 (including taxes) on the second day of spring sales, this dedicated to the art of the 21st century.
The recreation of one of the architectural landmarks of Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona became the first UNESCO World Heritage building from which a Non-Fungible Token is made. Entitled Casa Batlló: Living architecture, this is the first live dynamic and generative NFT of its kind.
Anadol, born in 1985, uses climate data collected in real time from sensors installed around the building. He thus captures and vividly reflects the facade of one of the most admired Gaudí designs in the world. The author of that piece is a media designer and artist. His projects consist of data-driven machine learning algorithms that create abstract, dreamlike environments. He is listed as a pioneer in the aesthetics of artificial intelligence.
This was the only NFT work to be offered in the total of the five auction days and it started with an estimate of one to two million dollars. It stayed at 1.3 million after the bid and could be paid with cryptocurrency. 10% of the profits obtained will go to the Aprenem Autisme association and the Adana Foundation.
Christie's explained that these two creations did not go on sale because it was considered that the market was not ready, a tacit acknowledgment that there were no handbags to bid with much interest. The session closed with a total collection of 103,064,200 dollars, with Abstraktes Bild, by German Gerhard Richter, as the most appreciated. It sold for $36.5 million.
The session closed with Anadol and Barcelona. His work is described as a monumental and multisensory experience. Casa Batlló: Living Architecture means the culmination of the collaboration between the institution that manages the architectural treasure and Refik Anadol. Exactly one year ago, Casa Batlló launched its new award-winning, immersive tour of one of Gaudí's masterpieces, conceived as a journey – with an exclusive soundtrack, an audio story, installations and digital rooms – which involved redefine the museum experience by connecting with new and young audiences globally
For the final auction of the tour of the museum, Casa Batlló commissioned Anadol to carry out this work "in the mind of Gaudí" that is described as a 360-degree experience through artificial intelligence and visual sculpture within a space of six screens installed in the basement of the building, according to the statement from Christie's. "This puts the Gaudí façade both at the forefront of our collective cultural memory and establishes its place in digital space in this historic sale," he added.
"The mission of Casa Batlló is to amplify the magic of Gaudí and Refik Anadol is a perfect companion for this trip," said Gary Gautier, manager of the Barcelona institution, in the same statement. He remarked that Anadol's work "stands between art and technology, expands the possibilities of architecture and brings a new perspective beyond space and time." In addition, he "connects past, present and future, reminding us of the innovative, humanist and visionary Gaudí."
For Anadol, "Gaudí is an impressive inspiration for any creator and Casa Batlló is a dream job to immerse oneself in." And he added that "from his organic architecture, inspired by nature, to the smallest details in his many mosaics, it is a privilege to reinterpret such a living legacy and bring it into the 21st century guided by artificial intelligence."