S otheby’s is pleased to present the first single owner NFT auction: Inside the world of MaxStealth: A Timeless Collection, which pays tribute to the anonymous collector MaxStealth, who has built one of the first great NFT collections. A visionary, his keen and prophetic eye has helped shape a new era of collecting, bringing together works from many of the world’s most iconic crypto artists, including XCOPY, Pak, Hackatao and Beeple.
The live auction will take place at Sotheby’s New York on the 14th of September.
Inside the World of MaxStealth: A Timeless Collection
Having collected NFTs since 2020, MaxStealth is known as a visionary early adopter of NFTs and a major supporter of digital art. His exceptional collection of 1/1 NFTs includes exemplary projects that were niche at the time he acquired them but are now widely recognised as landmark works.
Based in Australia, MaxStealth has a background as a self-employed entrepreneur, company founder and consultant within the IT industry, specializing in enterprise integration. The origin of his Web3 pseudonym MaxStealth dates back to his work in computer security and the hacking community during the 1990s.
MaxStealth’s interest in collecting started in childhood as a shared passion with his father, later informing his fascination with Web3 and his astute eye for NFTs that first developed in early 2020. He says: “What is different for the viewer between a two-dimensional Picasso on the wall and a superb flat screen showing an incredible piece of digital art, which is dynamic and can also be appreciated in VR, AR and the metaverse where future generations will live and connect?”
He quickly dedicated himself to exploring and researching the world of digital art, discovering a new online community and supporting an early crypto art movement during what he remembers as a “short but incredibly significant period in time”.
“Looking back on history, I truly believe that 2020 will be viewed as an iconic year in the NFT fine art space,” he says. “The technology behind NFTs is a foundation of Web3. Total transparency, 100% provenance.”
One of the first major pioneers of crypto art to catch his eye was XCOPY. “For me, XCOPY was always a superstar,” he says of buying one of the artist’s earliest mints from 2018. “His style is unique, it is striking and unlike any other artist in this space there was no question that I was going to buy an XCOPY.”
Defining the character of the collection for MaxStealth is 3LAU’s Can’t Copy Me.
“The piece is aggressive, in your face and completely sums up what NFTs are.”
At the core of the collection is a set of NFTs known as ‘The Great 7’, seven works that were purchased over a period of just a week in October 2020. These include works by Pak, Hackatao, XCOPY, Andrés Reisinger and Trevor Jones & José Delbo.
XCOPY, Departed (2018)
The London-based digital artist XCOPY was an early pioneer of GIF art via the websites Giphy and Tumblr but today is most widely known as an early adopter of crypto art, having been invited to participate in the launch of the SuperRare marketplace in 2018. His neon-colored illustrated GIFs are instantly recognizable for their dark, punk-inspired themes of apathy and dystopia and the distorting “glitch” elements and visual loops which, due to their low frame rate, move and vibrate with a frenetic energy that brings the images to life on screen. One of XCOPY’s very first NFTs, only his 17th mint, Departed shows a monstrous being with multiple eyes that stares out at the viewer. On either side, ominous dark strokes bring to mind the depths of a forest but the flickering static of the background places the creature firmly within the digital realm.
Pak, Conversion Routine (2020) & Tide Routine (2020)
A giant within the crypto world and creator of Archillect, digital artist Pak is behind The Merge, the highest-selling NFT collection of all time. In 2020, Pak started the on-going series Routine, composed of sleek cuboid forms that dissolve, vibrate, rotate and reform on a loop. A new Routine is only released when the last Routine has been collected, and each time the collector must outbid every previous bid on a work from the whole collection. With this premise, the series is a conceptual experiment that explores market manipulation and game theory. In Conversion Routine, a structure containing a smaller cube within a larger cube is divided into quarters that repeatedly turn in unison as the whole slowly rotates through space. MaxStealth acquired the work in October 2020, and two days later he bought Tide Routine, a cube formed of 125 tiny cubes that explode outwards and pulsate before falling back into an orderly shape.
Beeple, Bull Run (2020)
Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann, has become a household name for the huge success of his digital art projects. Starting out as a graphic designer from South Carolina, since 2007 he has been creating a picture everyday and posting it online, never missing a single day in a project known as Everydays: The First 5000 Days. On November 20, 2020, day #4951, as part of the REDUX collection within the Everydays project, he released Bull Run as an open edition, allowing unlimited mints within a short timeframe, with 271 editions eventually minted. The digital work comes with a physical version displayed via infinite object screen, and can therefore be considered among the earliest “phigital” artworks sold as NFTs. Created using the modeling and editing tools Cinema 4D, Octane Render and Photoshop, the work features a giant, powerful bull walking across a timeless landscape with the golden medallion of Bitcoin affixed to its back. This image alludes to both ancient traditions, such as the Ancient Egyptian sacred bull Apis, and a more futuristic or Steampunk-inspired style, with the mechanical saddle and other cyborg elements. It is a wry reference to the newest boom of interest in cryptocurrencies as a bull market.
Andrés Reisinger, Conscious Stardust (2018) & RAC and Andrés Reisinger, Elephant Dreams (2020)
A major multimedia collaboration between the Grammy award-winning musician RAC and the digital artist Andrés Reisinger, Elephant Dreams is a set of surrealist skylit interiors rendered in pastel pink. These uncanny spaces are filled with futuristic furniture and ambiguous objects like oversized or floating apples, clocks, houseplants and stacks of books. The first in the series, acquired by MaxStealth from RAC in October 2020, shows a sitting room lit by a warm reddish glow and the entrancing effect of a rotating overhead light that casts white dots across the floor and furniture. The record producer has commented that the images perfectly match the moody and atmospheric tone of his music.
One of the most successful digital artists to produce NFTs, the world renown designer Andrés Reisinger is known for his imagining dreamlike, pastel-toned digital settings filled with futuristic furniture and other strange objects. In 2020, MaxStealth was the first to buy Conscious Stardust from the artist’s Terrace North series. Modeled in 3D, the work presents an ambiguous purple interior with openings into the cloudy skies of the outside world. Playing with a range of textures, a strange, inflated metallic mass bends and winds over a pooling soft carpet beside a sleek, transparent lounge chair.
Hackatao, Warhol Thinks Pop6 (2018), My Personal Monolith (2019) & Peepers (2019)
The digital artist duo Hackatao, formed in Milan in 2007, originally produced sculpture but transitioned to digital art in 2018, when they started minting animated GIFs on SuperRare, making them self-titled “OGs” of crypto art. Their name refers both to the practice of ‘hacking’, or the pleasure of discovering what lies beneath, and to the Yin and Yang of Tao. They have attracted a huge following in the NFT community for their playful and colorfully illustrated characters that reference historical and pop cultural phenomena, all with some element of the pair’s signature black and white line drawing pattern. In 2020, MaxStealth acquired Peepers, a standout work for the strange, monstrous figure’s overgrown head filled with eyes, all darting back and forth to stare at one spinning eye at the center. The message of the work is personal to its creators, who commented “when you do something out of the ordinary (like Cryptoart), everyone looks at you. It’s often embarrassing, but with time you get used to it.” In January 2021, MaxStealth expanded his collection of works by Hackatao, adding My Personal Monolith, a reference to Stanley Kubric’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Warhol Thinks Pop6, a tribute to the originator of Pop Art.
Trevor Jones & José Delbo, Who is the Creator 2 (2020)
A well-established artist in both the physical and digital realms, Trevor Jones teamed up with José Delbo, the legendary comic artist behind Wonder Woman and The Transformers to create Who is the Creator 2. We see the process of Delbo bringing Batman to life according to Jones’ instructions. “The animation tells the story of the creative process, which includes my roles as writer, director, and producer working with a team and making edits and changes ‘in real time’,” Jones has commented. “Elements such as the snapping and kicking of the pencil and the signing of my signature at the bottom challenge the viewer to ask important questions, such as, is the ‘art’ the final animation (the creation) or is the ‘art’ the concept/credit for the creation itself?”
SSX3LAU, Can’t Copy Me (2020) & Traffic (2020)
As a major producer of electronic dance music and founder of the music NFT marketplace Royal, 3LAU has led a new collecting revolution allowing buyers to acquire music as NFTs. MaxStealth’s most memorable purchase is Can’t Copy Me, the DJ’s very first NFT whose title is a wry reference to the powerful non-fungibility of the NFT. The work was produced as part of the SSX3LAU partnership with collage artist Slime Sunday, a hot shot within the digital art community who has worked with major musicians like Katy Perry and Lana Del Rey. The pair are interested in exploring the growing intersection of audio and visual arts enabled by blockchain technologies. For the project Traffic, which took over 200 hours to complete, the artists imagined the crossroads between the metaverse and reality and designed a new landscape from scratch. They have commented, “we think we’ll be spending a lot more time in the metaverse in the future, don’t you?”
The Great 7
7 works MaxStealth purchased over a period of one week and constitute today the core of his collection.
- 9 October, 2020
- 11 October, 2020
- 11 October, 2020
- 13 October, 2020
- 15 October, 2020
- 15 October, 2020
- 17 October, 2020
RAC & Andrés ReisingerElephant Dreams
Andrés ReisingerConsciousness Stardust
Trevor Jones & José DelboWho Is The Creator 2