Famed Auction House Christie’s Pushes New ‘Piss Christ’ NFT
Spencer Platt/Newsmakers/GettyImages

Famed auction house Christie’s is pushing a non-fungible token (NFT) this week: the infamous 1987 work from artist Andres Serrano titled “Piss Christ,” a photo of a crucifix submerged in a glass tank allegedly filled with Serrano’s urine.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) partially funded “Piss Christ,” precipitating outrage. The photo received a $15,000 award from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, which was funded partly by the NEA. In 1989, New York GOP Senator Alfonse D’Amato called Piss Christ “a deplorable, despicable display of vulgarity” on the Senate floor and tore up an image of the photograph.

“What it symbolizes is the way Christ died: the blood came out of him but so did the piss and the s***,” Serrano told The Guardian in 2016. “Maybe if Piss Christ upsets you, it’s because it gives some sense of what the crucifixion actually was like … I was born and raised a Catholic and I’ve been a Christian all my life.”

“The dynamic video NFT replicates three historic vandalisms of the original 1987 photograph on a yearly cycle. [Skillfully] applying the time-based mechanisms of digital art, Serrano both archives and transforms the story of his infamous photograph, underscoring its enduring legacy in the history of art and the right to creative expression,” Christie’s boasts.

The NFT was produced in collaboration with a/political, an organization whose co-founder, Lisa Witter, has stated, “It’s time to showcase the inspirational people who are pioneering change and shaping gender policy around the globe.”

In 2019, a/political released its Gender Equality Top 100 list which included people such as transgender rights activist Sarah McBride, who works at the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, and Leana Wen, the then-head of Planned Parenthood.

In 2019, Christie’s was one of the first businesses to file for exemption against former President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese art and antiques. Those tariffs imposed a 15% duty on seven types of artwork and antiques from China.

“It also will severely impact the U.S. art market as a whole, drying up any ability to purchase Chinese artworks outside of the United States,” Christie’s declared. “Punishing the U.S. art market in this manner flies in the face of an important American value of support for the art world.”

In March 2021, Christie’s announced a global sustainability initiative. Prior to that, in 2019, Christie’s sold the personal guitar collection of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour for $21.5 million; all proceeds went to ClientEarth.

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