“Crypto Lilies”: Digital Artworks Found Outside Sotheby’s Before Long-awaited Monet Sale

Early Tuesday, on the morning of a high-profile Monet sale at Sotheby’s, three colorful digital displays were found in front of the famous NY auction house. While there are several clues as to what this stunt might mean, they don’t seem to lead anywhere conclusive. This has left many online scratching their heads.

Monet’s painting just sold for $50 million. Here’s why.

It seems clear why Deafeye Fine Art chose to premier the “Crypto Lilies” when they did: Claude Monet’s Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas (1918) was just auctioned for the first time in 25 years. Often considered the father of Impressionism, Monet was known for his abstract and vibrant depictions of sublime natural settings.

Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas is a prime example of the artist’s signature style. The work is a lush depiction of the artist’s lily pond that is bursting with a strange and singular beauty. It is part of the artist’s much beloved “Water Lilies” series, and as such, drew a higher than expected price at auction: though the work was estimated to sell for $40 million, its actual sale price was over $50m.

New photos show digital artworks on display in front of Sotheby’s.

Three screens in total were found, each bearing a unique digital rendition of Monet’s Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas. The works are done in a kind of minimalist, layered color style, each with its own color scheme. Each image is digitally framed in classical gallery style frames of red, green, or blue, with flames of the same hue filling the background.

The top of each image gives us our clearest and – at first glance – most promising clue: the words “Crypto Lilies” and “Deafeye Fine Art” appear in classic rock style font. We can assume “Crypto Lilies” to be a title for the series of works – clearly a play on Monet’s “Water Lilies” – leaving “Deafeye Fine Art” to refer to the artist or group that created them. However, the rabbit hole doesn’t end there.

Are the Crypto Lilies an art stunt, or timely advertising?

Yesterday’s discovery was a puzzling one. No one seems to know who’s behind the Crypto Lilies, who Deafeye Fine Art might be, or their intent behind the works.

With the timely presentation and conspicuous titling of the Crypto Lilies, one’s mind may jump to some form of advertising – but there’s a problem with that theory: there doesn’t seem to be any detectable trace of “Crypto Lilies” or “Deafeye Fine Art” anywhere online. If they want people to buy something, they sure aren’t giving any clues as to what or where.

Where will Deafeye Fine Art strike next?

With very little to take us further in the search for Deafeye Fine Art, we may have to wait for the artist(s) to reveal themselves before we know anything for sure. With such a high-profile display, it seems unlikely that this is the last we’ll see of Deafeye Fine Art. Whatever their intentions or aims, it will be interesting to see what kind of crazy story they generate next.

Check out the results of the Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas auction at Sothebys.com.

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