Beeple’s Human One (2021), a seven-foot-tall sculpture composed of LED screens that display an astronaut strolling through a dystopian landscape, sold to Swiss venture capitalist Ryan Zurrer for $29 million at a Christie’s evening sale last night.
On Twitter, Zurrer thanked Beeple for his “visionary innovation, amazing new energy and [the] hilarious positive vibes that you’ve brought to both crypto and art.”
Zurrer is founder and director of two enigmatic companies. Dialectic, as described on its Linkedin page, is “a Swiss capital enterprise focused on delivering outlier returns via synergistic deployment of human and financial capital into alternative assets and compelling globally diversified opportunities”; it boasts a “multi-family office space” that is “primed for radical disruption.” His other business, Vine Ventures, is a $25 million fund that invests in companies dealing in psychedelics.
Zurrer has previously worked for Vestas, a wind turbine company, and Energisa, an energy distribution company in Brazil, and founded Coinverse, which bills itself as South America’s first “Bitcoin Bank.” (Some may see an irony in initiatives such as this one, given that Bitcoin has been followed by allegations that it is less eco-friendly than its proponents have led people to believe.) Since 2013, Coinverse has allowed Brazilians to transact using cryptocurrency. That same year, Zurrer also founded the engineering firm Elementos Empreendimentos, which worked on renewable energy projects in South America.
Zurrer began focusing exclusively on crypto in 2016, when he became a venture partner at Polychain Capital, a major player in the crypto space during the Bitcoin boom of 2017. In 2018, as the price of Bitcoin collapsed, Zurrer was fired.
Aside from his business ventures, Zurrer has been a vocal fan of NFTs. “I can get lost for hours browsing @SuperRare,” he tweeted last month about the NFT platform. “It’s probably the first website where a normal user can come out of a session having spent 6 hours & 6 figures. That fact they had the courage/vision to make a site that valuable be community-owned will go down in crypto lore.”
Zurrer owns works by digital artists such as Maxim Zhestkov, Federico Clapis, and WLOP, whose alluring digital paintings have earned them more than one million followers on Instagram. Zurrer also collects art by Refik Anadol, who has exhibited all over the world this year, including at Bitforms gallery in New York, and sold a $5.1 million collection of digital work at Sotheby’s last month. For such an avid collector as Zurrer, a defining Beeple piece could act as the crown jewel of his expanding collection.
“HOLY FUCKKKKKK!!! INSANELY HONORED to be in this collection,” Beeple tweeted just after the auction.
Ahead of the sale of Human One, which also has an NFT component, market prognosticators speculated about how well it may do on the block. Beeple made international headlines earlier this year when he sold an NFT at Christie’s for more than $69 million. “Will we see another frenzy like with Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’?” Josh Baer, who runs the newsletter @BaerFaxt, asked on Instagram.
Human One may not have reached the heights of Salvator Mundi, but Zurrer can rest easy knowing he owns a piece of crypto art history.