In August 2021, Ringers #879 became one of the most expensive NFTs ever sold at 1,800 ETH ($5.9 million). Two years later, the NFT from Dmitri Cherniak’s groundbreaking generative art project, affectionately known as the “The Goose,” has found a new home with Punk6529 via Sotheby’s Grails: Part II auction. The winning bid was $5.4 million, but with the buyer’s premium, the total is actually over $6.2 million.
The Sotheby’s auction of Three Arrow Capital’s assets closed at just under $11 million with buyer fees, exceeding the presale high estimate of $4.8 million and injecting excitement into a beleaguered NFT art market.
Knowing the history of Ringers #879 is critical to understanding why it sold for such a high amount and why the auction has just about everyone in Web3 captivated.
What is Ringers?
The concept — and the beauty, many believe — behind Ringers lies in its simplicity; drawing influence from the famous Swiss graphic designer Armin Hoffman, Cherniak wanted to create art based on the concept of wrapping strings around pegs and was fascinated by the seemingly limitless ways in which to do so. When performed by an algorithm, the variation in the number of pegs, location, peg size, colors, and wrap orientation resulted in thousands of visually compelling combinations.
This is one of the reasons that Ringers #879 is considered so valuable. Beyond being a happy and unintentional accident created indirectly from the mind of the artist who built the guiding algorithm, the improbability of an animal shape emerging from the generative randomness adds to its allure, visual identity, and rarity.
“In generative art, the artist dictates the relative probability of any particular attribute appearing in an artwork, but the artist is only dictating the probability, not the actual number of times a particular attribute appears,” Kate Hannah, ArtBlocks’ Chief Experience Officer, explained in a recent video from Sotheby’s detailing Cherniak’s work.
The provenance of Ringers #879
The story of the Goose begins in New York, where a physical version of the piece was printed and signed on July 29, 2021.
Ringers #879 was minted on January 31, 2021, by TheCryptonite, who sold it to pixelpepe for 1.26 ETH just four days later (he also received the physical print along with the NFT). It was then purchased by Three Arrows Capital, the now-defunct Singapore-based crypto hedge fund, on August 27, 2021, for 1,800 ETH ($5.9 million). Notably, VincentVanDough tried to buy the piece for 500 ETH, but his offer was declined.
Web3 emulates the Goose
Web3 artists, collectors, and curators have been anticipating the auction for some time now, and their feelings of excitement were channeled into derivative versions of Ringers #879 in the lead-up to the sale. NFT heavyweights including Beeple, ThankYouX, Alpha Centauri Kid, and more joined in on the trend.
Been seeing the Goose on my timeline this morning. ✨️ pic.twitter.com/YB9xybin9h— DeltaSauce (@delta_sauce) June 15, 2023
Editor’s note: The headline of this piece was previously: “Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers #879, ‘The Goose,’ Just Sold for $5.4 Million,” but has since been updated to reflect the final aggregate selling price.