AI-generated portrait smashes estimate, selling at auction for $612,000

New York: It's signed by the artist: min G max D Ex[log(D(x))] + Ez[log(1-D(G(z)))].

A portrait created by artificial intelligence fetched $US432,500 ($612,000) at Christie's in New York on Thursday, the first time a computer-generated artwork was offered by a major auction house.

Christie's sold an AI-created art work called <em>Portrait of Edmond Belamy</em> for $612,000.

Christie’s sold an AI-created art work called Portrait of Edmond Belamy for $612,000.Credit:Christie’s

The print on canvas, titled Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy, depicts a blurry and unfinished image of a man in a dark frock-coat and white collar, possibly French, who appears to be a man of the church, judging by his clothing, Christie's said.

Displayed in a gilded wooden frame, it was expected to fetch $US7000 to $US10,000 and was offered as the final lot at Christie's auction of prints and multiples.

The work was the brainchild of Obvious Art, a Paris-based collective, with help from an algorithm known as GAN (Generative Adversarial Network).

It was among several portraits produced by AI, all of them arranged in a fictitious Belamy family tree, including Baron de Belamy in a military sash and a countess in pink silks.

"We fed the system with a data set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th century to the 20th," collective member Hugo Caselles-Dupre told Christie's.

The piece sparked a bidding war among five parties that lasted about seven minutes, with an anonymous phone buyer prevailing, Christie's spokeswoman Jennifer Cuminale said.

"It is an exciting moment and our hope is that the spotlight on this sale will bring forward the amazing work that our predecessors and colleagues have been producing," the collective said in a statement.

"We are grateful to Christie's for opening up this dialogue in the art community and honored to have been a part of this global conversation about the impact of this new technology in the creation of art."

Bloomberg, Reuters 

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