Emily Ratajkowski To Sell Controversial Art As NFT At Christie’s Auction
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Emily Ratajkowski attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

Model and actress Emily Ratajkowski is the latest prominent figure to be selling a “nonfungible token,” or NFT. The piece, titled “Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution” is being auctioned at Christie’s on May 14.

“As Ms. Ratajkowski chronicled in a widely read essay published in The Cut last fall, she’d been surprised to find out, in 2014, that a nude photograph of herself was hanging in the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue. As part of his ‘New Portraits’ series, the artist Richard Prince had taken one of her Instagram photos and printed it on a large canvas, priced at $90,000,” reported The New York Times.

“Ms. Ratajkowski tried to buy the piece but a Gagosian employee bought it for himself. After contacting Mr. Prince’s studio directly, though, she was able to obtain a second ‘Instagram painting’ of herself, featuring a photo from her first appearance in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. She had been paid $150 for the shoot, she wrote, and a ‘couple grand’ when the issue was published,” the Times added.

The image which will be attached to the NFT being auctioned is a “digital composite showing Ms. Ratajkowski, photographed in her New York apartment, posing in front of the Richard Prince painting that hangs in her Los Angeles home.”

NFTs have revolutionized the ownership of digital works, allowing such products to be “signed” with unique identifiers in the item’s metadata using blockchain technology — the same technology which underpins the security of cryptocurrency transactions — thereby guaranteeing their originality.

“As somebody who has built a career off of sharing my image, so many times — even though that’s my livelihood — it’s taken from me and then somebody else profits off of,” Ratajkowski told The Times.

What makes the issue more complicated when compared to other notable NFT sales is that “The composite artwork being NFT-ized contains two discrete images: the first is a photo of Ratajkowski in her apartment, the second is (what appears to be) a digital copy of a ‘painting’ by Richard Prince,” explained by The Verge.

“Someone owns the foreground photo of Ratajkowski in her apartment (possibly the photographer, possibly Ratajkowski herself). Ratajkowski owns a physical copy of the painting by Richard Prince, but she likely does not own rights to digitally reproduce it,” the article stated.

As is the case with most NFTs, Ratajkowski will receive a portion of the sales value every time the NFT is resold in the future.

In late April, the model tweeted about the NFT, writing, “In a step toward my ongoing effort to reclaim and control my image, I’m thrilled to announce my first conceptual artwork to ever come to market, an NFT entitled Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution.”

“The digital terrain should be a place where women can share their likeness as they choose, controlling the usage of their image and receiving whatever potential capital attached. Instead, the internet has more frequently served as a space where others exploit and distribute images of women’s bodies without their consent and for another’s profit. Art has historically functioned similarly: works of unnamed muses sell for millions of dollars and build careers of traditionally male artists, while the subjects of these works receive nothing,” she continued.

“Using the newly introduced medium of NFTs, I hope to symbolically set a precedent for women and ownership online, one that allows for women to have ongoing authority over their image and to receive rightful compensation for its usage and distribution,” she later added.


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