Not safe for work: Beeple donates ‘censored NFT’ to Italian museum


The artist Beeple has donated an NFT work to the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin which was deemed too rude for YouTube.

Beeple’s work FTX BOARD MEETING, DAY #5676 11.13.2022 (2023) shows an orgy scene in an office setting. When Castello di Rivoli attempted to show this work on their YouTube channel, it was censored by YouTube due to their rules against showing nudity, says a statement from the museum. YouTube did not respond to a request for comment.

The work donated includes an NFT (non-fungible token)—comprising a digital image in a unique edition registered with blockchain technology—and a physical component (a large oil painting on canvas). The subject of the piece is the entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried who is set to stand trial in October over the collapse of his FTX crypto exchange late last year.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the director of Castello di Rivoli, says in a statement: “Beeple questions the technology and the society that develops in relation to that technology, even as he uses its system and structures. For me, Beeple is interesting as an artist in a similar way to Andy Warhol: both critique the societies in which they are embedded… Beeple’s seemingly pornographic image is also pointing to the childish, immature and narcissistic nature of the digital world. It’s important that such art not be censored by social media companies and their algorithms.”

The uncensored version of Mike Winkelmann (Beeple)’s FTX BOARD MEETING, DAY #5676 11.13.2022

Bankman-Fried was a proponent of a philanthropic model called “effective altruism”. Last month, a New York court ruled he must face the full suite of criminal charges brought against him related to FTX.

According to Reuters, prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to plug losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund. They have also accused Bankman-Fried of misleading investors and contributing illegally to US political campaigns in the names of colleagues. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Last month, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York agreed to return donations totalling more than half a million dollars it received from FTX.

In 2021, Beeple (real name, Mike Winkelmann), sold a record-breaking NFT at Christie’s for $69.3m (Everydays: The First 5000 Days, 2021). Before the pandemic, he worked as a graphic designer and animator, creating concert visuals for performing artists such as Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.


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