The piece was created by French collective Obvious using an open-source code written by 19-year-old Robbie Barrett. Barrett has spoken out since the sale regarding the lack of credit he was given by the collective, sparking online debate about attribution for those who contribute to artworks.
The Edmond Belamy portrait is no stranger to the press, however. There was an initial furore when the AI-generated work was listed by Christie’s earlier this year. The estimated sale range for the painting was based on previous sale prices for the AI-generated portraits of Edmond Belamy’s family members. French collector Nicolas Laugero-Laserre purchased ‘The Count of Belamy’, the image of the family patriarch, in February for $11,430.
Christie’s reported on a bidding war that took place between an online participant from France, a gentleman present at the New York auction house and the anonymous phone bidder who ultimately won. The portrait sold for the same amount as a Picasso print, which Christie’s had estimated in the range of $200,000 to $300,000.