Celebrated Canadian photographer Andrew Miller has announced an exclusive auction of the first professional and never-before-sold portrait of Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, tokenized as an NFT. The auction coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Ethereum concept, the open-source, decentralized blockchain recognized globally for its smart contract functionality.
The auction is set to commence on July 1st and continue until July 30th at on Manifold.xyz, presenting a singular opportunity for collectors to secure a piece of Ethereum’s early history. The starting bid is pegged at 333 ETH.
Speaking to CryptoSlate, Miller shared details of the backstory behind the photograph:
“This auction is an attempt to commemorate and update Ethereum’s history; which never acknowledged that I created these iconic portraits. I was there at the beginning when the white paper was still being drafted, gifting the photos to a cash strapped teenager and literally giving him the shirt off my own back. After taking these portraits I lost track of Vitalik and Ethereum, only vaguely aware of their meteoric rise. I’ve only just begun to uncover the role my images played in building trust in him and thus Ethereum.
I initiated the portraits as a gift for Vitalik’s non-commercial blog but I suspected the Ethereum team would need these quality photos for commercial purposes. I detailed licensing and copyright buyout terms to Vitalik and Co-founder Anthony Di Iorio at the time and copyright payment was briefly discussed in ETH. ETH would only be produced months later for the first time. It seemed at this point our lives moved in different directions leaving behind the fact that it would have resulted in 3225 ETH.
I have sent questions to the Ethereum founders about whether they thought they had purchased the copyright or if they deliberately misused my portraits.”
In 2014, Buterin, then only 19, piqued Miller’s curiosity with his vision for a decentralized future. Inspired by the potential he saw in the teenager, Miller captured a series of portraits that would contribute significantly to Buterin’s public image and the perception of Ethereum.
Encadrium studio here in #Montreal is hosting my resplendent print of @VitalikButerin while my reserve 333 ETH auction is underway at https://t.co/AcnXi0XTY9
Ongoing until end of July. #nft #ethereum #art #history #portrait pic.twitter.com/6EEh86Lr15
— Andrew Miller (@awesomephoto2) July 6, 2023
To Miller, these portraits became more than mere visual representations of Buterin. They captured a crucial transformation. “He presented as a shy and socially naive teen, but there was an intriguing spark about him… as he spoke about a future that included his idea of Ethereum, his stooped posture straightened while his chin tilted upwards,” Miller said.
The photographer emphasized the broader narrative around the auction, emphasizing that it’s not solely about acquiring a valuable NFT. Instead, the portrait symbolizes Ethereum’s remarkable journey, capturing the collective effort that has shaped its success.
These portraits have become synonymous with Buterin, emblematic in media, memes, and derivative art, and continue to reinforce the trust and recognition surrounding Ethereum. With Ethereum now a leading smart contract platform, the auction of this emblematic piece will likely ignite interest among crypto enthusiasts, traders, and institutions alike.