Photo: Static image of ‘Heir to the Throne’ by Derrick Adams. Courtesy of Sotheby’s

25 June 2021 | Fang Block | Barron’s

The cover of Jay-Z’s debut album, “Reasonable Doubt,” has been recontextualized into a nonfungible token (NFT) by visual artist Derrick Adams and is being offered at Sotheby’s online from Friday through July 2.

Named Heir to the Throne after the 1996 album’s original title, the one-of-one NFT was created in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the album, which launched Jay-Z’s musical and business career.

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A rapper-turned-entrepreneur, Jay-Z, the stage name of Shawn Carter, 51, has a net worth of approximately $1.4 billion by Forbes’ estimates. The Brooklyn native owns entertainment company Roc Nation, and spirits brands Armand de Brignac champagne and D’Ussé cognac. His art collection includes works by fellow Black artists from Brooklyn such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Adams.

“With this NFT project, we jointly embrace the opportunity to further the conversation about how artists of different mediums contribute to a more inclusive society,” Adams said in a statement through Sotheby’s. “My portraits aim to capture the sensibility, optimism and beauty of urban life, and in Jay’s work I’ve found tremendous kinship.”

Offered at Sotheby’s single-lot sale, the NFT has a starting bid of US$1,000. Sotheby’s will also accept cryptocurrency, Ether or Bitcoin, as a payment option for the work. Portions of the proceeds of the sale will benefit Jay-Z’s non-profit, The Shawn Carter Foundation.  

The digital art features bright colors, geometric forms, multi-layered textures, and flat surface dimensions that Adams, 51, is best known for. Adams used animation to make glowing red embers and a stream of smoke rise from the end of Jay-Z’s iconic cigar, then transform into the number of 25.

The digital artwork is currently on view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries in Manhattan until Thursday, and via Sotheby’s gallery in Decentraland, a blockchain-backed virtual reality platform.

Bid listed current as of 30 June 2021

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