By: Rachel Silverman
In early September the Bowie Estate made an announcement to Twitter that would spark both uproar and backlash. It brought up a classic philosophical question centering around the ethicality of selling an artist’s likeness postmortem. And of course, at the center of it all, stood the ever-controversial, NFT.
On September 6th, Open Sea announced to Twitter ‘Bowie On The Block Chain’.
The project united nine prominent NFT artists who created unique works in homage to Bowie. The artists included Defaced, FEWOCiOUS, Glam Beckett, JAKE, Jonathan Wolfe, Lirona, Osinachi, Young & Sick, and most recognizable, Nadya Tolokonnikova of PussyRiot.
The reaction was swift and harsh. Many Bowie fans were disgusted by what they considered to be a desecration of Bowie’s artistic integrity and legacy. Fans argued that NFTs are nothing more than a digital pyramid scheme and without Bowie’s approval it would be immoral to make money off of him in an industry that didn’t even exist when he was alive.
But others fought back, arguing that this would have been the exact kind of thing Bowie would have loved. David Bowie was known for his inventiveness and foreward thinking when it came to monetizing his work. In 1997 he established what became known as the ‘Bowie Bond’. The bonds were backed by Bowie’s royalty streams. Bowie used this income to buy back the rights to his music from his manager.
The profits of the NFTs do not directly support the Bowie Estate. 100% of the proceeds are going to CARE, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting global poverty and world hunger, so any arguments that the entire thing is a cash grab is moot. No matter your opinions on NFTs and crypto, the benefit of this series of NFTs is undeniable.
The backlash made it seem as if the entire project would get pulled but after multiple postponements ‘Bowie On the Block Chain’ did go live. As of right now, the collection has a total worth of 125.389 Ethereum.