The man who bought Beeple’s $69 million NFT reveals his identity to show the equalising power of crypto — but is caught in a controversy himself

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The man who bought Beeple’s $69 million NFT reveals his identity to show the equalising power of crypto — but is caught in a controversy himself
Vignesh Sundaresan vigneshsundaresan.com
  • The non-fungible token (NFT) ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ by Beeple was sold for a whopping $69 million at a Christie’s auction last week to MetaKovan.
  • MetaKovan has revealed himself to be entrepreneur Vignesh Sundaresan, who was also the founder of the now defunct Coins-e exchange.
  • According to him, he made the purchase to show the world the equaling power of crypto.
  • However, an independent blogger Amy Castor, suspects that Beeple and Sundaresan may have been in cahoots to increase the value of the rest of Beeple’s collection within the B20 project.
A piece of digital artwork — a non-fungible token (NFT) — was put under the hammer in the UK and was sold for $69 million last week. It’s the third-highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist, according to the legacy auction house Christie’s.

While the sale of ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ was a historic moment for Christie’s, Beeple — whose real name is Mike Winkelmann — and the art world in general, many were left wondering about the mystery man who made the bid using the pseudonym MetaKovan.

The man who bought Beeple’s $69 million NFT reveals his identity to show the equalising power of crypto — but is caught in a controversy himself
Beeple's 'Everydays: The First 5000 Days'Christie's

It turns out, it wasn’t just one man, but two entrepreneurs from Tamil Nadu who are currently settled in Singapore — Vignesh Sundaresan who goes by MetaKovan and Anand Venkateswaran, also known as Twobadour.
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“The point was to show Indians and people of colour that they too could be patrons, that crypto was an equalising power between the West and the ‘rest’, and that the global south was rising” said the two in a blog post revealing their identity.

Who is MetaKovan?
Sundaresan, an alumnus of the US-based startup accelerator Y-Combinator, discovered crypto in 2013. At the time he had no money. So, he looked to the global and open network of Bitcoin to earn some cash. This led to him offering escrow services, and eventually setting up an exchange in Canada called Coins-e.

This was Sundaresan’s introduction to the world of cryptocurrencies. But, his true turning point was when he invested in the world’s first Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of Ethereum.
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The money that came in was used to fund multiple projects like Polkadot, Tezo, Dfinity, Decentraland, Flow and others. And, the same fountain of gold is what created Metapurse — “a crypto-exclusive fund that specialises in identifying early-stage projects across blockchain infrastructure, finance, art, unique collectibles, and virtual estate.”

Basically, if there’s any worth spending money on in the crypto space, then Metapurse wants to be a part of it — like Beeple’s artwork. “As founder and steward of Metapurse, they are charged with helping build the metaverse. We now know they can do the heavy lifting, backed by a growing team,” said the blog post explaining the roles of Sundaresan and Vekateswaran, respectively.

The controversy around Metapurse
Metapurse’s first experiment was the B20 project. Sundaresan and Venkateswaran bought about 20 single edition art pieces by Beeple for $2.2 million.
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Subsequently, it set up the collection. Not in the real world, but in bitspace. The two men sought out prime real estate in the virtual world, signed on virtual architects to create monuments, and infused these structures with an original soundscape.

And, this is where things get complicated. When Sundaresan created the B20 project, he gave himself 59% of the outstanding tokens and 2% of it went to Beeple.

According to an independent blogger Amy Castor, this represents a conflict of interest. The two may have been in cahoots to ensure that the ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ artwork, by Beeple, gets added to the Metapurse collection.
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The man who bought Beeple’s $69 million NFT reveals his identity to show the equalising power of crypto — but is caught in a controversy himself
Close up of one of the images within 'Everydays: The First 5000 Days'Christie's

WhaleStreet, the decentralised market for swapping tokens, hosted the B20 sale on January 23. Around 1.6 million B20 tokens were sold at $0.36 apiece. After the auction, this shot up to $23.

This means the sale of Beeple’s latest NFT boosted the value of the entire collection by over 6000%.

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At the time of writing this article, the value of B20 tokens have come down $8.28, according to CoinMarketCap. According to Castor, Beeple’s share is still worth over $3 million if he sells his coins quickly and there’s enough liquidity to actually sell them.

“Since I published this article, Sundaresan has written to me and asked me to take it down. I refused, but agreed to make edits if he could point to anything specific that was wrong — so far, he hasn’t,” wrote Castor.

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