Sotheby's auctioneers in the prestigious New Bond Street
  • Tim Berners-Lee's NFT of the World Wide Web's source code went for $5.4 million (R77 million) at auction.
  • The NFT contained the code in its entirety, a 30-minute animation, and a letter written by Berners-Lee.
  • The market for NFTs has cooled off since a Beeple artwork sold for $69 million (R987 million) in May.
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Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has sold the web's original source code as an NFT, or nonfungible token, for just over $5.4 million (R77 million) at auction.

The NFT, titled "This Changed Everything," changed hands for $5,434,500 in the Sotheby's auction, which ended on Wednesday. The proceeds from the sale of the piece of internet history will go to philanthropic initiatives supported by Berners-Lee and his wife.

Based on the ethereum blockchain, the NFT included a digital poster of the source code, a visually animated version of it being written, and a letter from the Berners-Lee with his thoughts on his invention of the web in 1989.

"This unique auction marked the first time a digital-born artefact has ever been offered for sale at Sotheby's, and this has to be the ultimate example of its kind - one minted by Sir Tim himself," the auction house said in its catalogue.

NFTs boomed in popularity and price earlier this year as the crypto-hype took over. A NFT by crypto-artist Beeple, named "Everydays: The first 5,000 Days" sold at auction house Christie's in February for $69 million (R987 million). While the market has since cooled off, celebrities and artists such as Katy Perry continue to offer up their work as NFTs.

Sotheby's sold its first NFT in April for $17 million (R238 million), and it has accepted payments in cryptocurrency - bitcoin and ether - for real-world auction items, including a painting by Banksy and will do the same for a rare diamond up for auction this month.

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