The artwork is reportedly the “first portrait generated by an algorithm to come up for auction.”
Last year, British auction company Christie's grabbed headlines for selling a portrait said to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci — although many believe that the work may been painted by a follower, a studio assistant, or at best, a talented copyist — for $450 million. This year, the company has sold what it describes as the “first portrait generated by an algorithm to come up for auction," for $432,000 despite predictions that the piece would be acquired for $7,000 to $10,000.
The painting named Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy was purchased via telephone by an anonymous French bidder. Prior to the auction, Christie's reportedly invested a considerable amount of time in making the item appealing to buyers. The work became the matter of press releases, was granted interviews and advertised as being “on canvass" and "in a gilded frame." Private viewings and public showings of the piece were also held. Furthermore, it was strategically placed between work by Warhol and Lichtenstein boosting its earning potential. Made by a group of French students named Obvious, the work is a product of “machine learning” and “business school.”
Experts have come forward criticizing the piece for falsely claiming the title of the "first portrait generated by an algorithm to come up for auction," with Vulture's Jerry Saltz writing, "it is a flat-out lie."