The NFT Block Universe (2021) by DRIFT artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, showing cube-ish planets floating around a rectangular sun with a soundscape by Dutch DJ Don Diablo, has been sold for $550,000 by Pace Verso, the New York gallery’s new dedicated NFT platform, at Art Basel in Miami Beach. The buyer is a new client for the gallery, a digital native, originally from the UK but now based in the Netherlands, who has acquired other NFTs by Don Diablo, said Pace’s online sales director Christiana Ine-Kimba Boyle. She added that the collector will loan Block Universe to a European museum for an NFT exhibition later this winter.

The work, which comes with a handheld custom display that shows the NFT in an infinite loop, was originally priced at an even half-million, with 10% of the proceeds going to Justdiggit, a grassroots organisation that fights global warming by re-greening Africa. The buyer decided to donate an additional $50,000 to the cause, providing for 247 acres in total to be replanted.

DRIFT, Block Universe (2021)

© DRIFT, courtesy Pace Gallery

The NFT “portrays the human perspective in how we deal and try to make sense of the world and nature,” the artist Lonneke said in a statement, adding that it was exciting to see digital and traditional art colliding at the fair for the first time. “The response to our first NFT-based and AR work has been incredibly positive and we’re thrilled that it sold on just the second day of the fair,” Gordijn said.

Ralph Nauta added that he was proud to create the work Gordijn, “because women are underrepresented in the NFT community. In the last two years, only 5% of NFTs sold were made by women.” He was also excited the pair got to work with Don Diablo. “He’s a legend in the NFT community and is a disruptive force in the music industry as well. It has been inspiring to see him act and move so fast,” he said.

Don Diablo was equally honoured to work with his fellow Dutch artists and “represent the Netherlands in this exciting new landscape of digital art and NFT”, he said. “But to be honest, I am mostly humbled to take part in an art piece that actually contributes to help regreen the planet in such a big way.”

In addition to dropping a new album this September, Don Diablo has been working on an ambitious NFT project, called Hexhibit III, that will present the DJ’s multimedia vision of a spaceship landing in a new world, and will be accompanied by a physical structure. “I thought, ‘Why not actually build the thing? What if you could stand inside an NFT, literally?’ That hasn’t been done before,” the musician told Rolling Stone magazine earlier this year. The hybrid work will be offered in a private sale through Sotheby’s.

Diablo previously partnered with Sotheby’s for his Infinite Future project, an “adventure between collector and artist” in which the artist provided the buyer with a portable hologram projector that he would randomly upload music, messages, and art to for the rest of his life. The work, which came with an NFT, sold for $927,500 in June.

DRIFT currently have a major solo show on view at the Shed museum in New York until 19 December, and their large-scale installation Meadows can be seen at Pace’s Superblue immersive art outpost in Miami during the fair.