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Illustration: Axios

The first-ever NFT, Kevin McCoy's "Quantum," was auctioned this morning for $1.47 million, about half an hour after one of 10,000 CryptoPunks sold to betting-technology billionaire Shalom Meckenzie for $11.75 million.

Why it matters: The auction ratifies a truth about the art market that is understood more in theory than in practice.

  • The amount of money an artwork is worth is overwhelmingly a function of willingness to pay within a tiny group of incredibly rich collectors — much more than it is a function of intrinsic artistic quality.
  • In the clubby world of NFT collectors, the community that has grown up around CryptoPunks is large, rich, and highly liquid. The more traditional art world, by contrast, which produced "Quantum," is more hesitant to get into NFTs and less confident that they will retain their value.

The bottom line: Sotheby's talked up "Quantum" as a "seismic genesis work" comparable to pieces by Picasso, Malevich, and Duchamp. The crypto world, however, still prefers the equivalent of digital trading cards.

Go deeper

Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas four Trump aides

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Jan 6. select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot has subpoenaed four aides to former President Trump for testimony and documents.

Why it matters: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former communications official Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kash Patel, and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon were all in touch "with the White House on or in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection," the committee said in a release.

U.S. friends in Latin America are turning to China

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The U.S. is losing Latin America to China without putting up a fight, Ecuador’s ambassador to Washington told Axios, laying bare her frustrations with early inattention from the Biden administration.

Why it matters: Ecuador isn't alone. China has deepened its engagement in the region, and it's now the top trading partner for many of the region's largest economies. That gives Beijing considerable leverage in a region historically dominated by the U.S., and makes Latin America a major frontier in the global competition for influence.

1 dead, 14 injured in shooting at Kroger grocery store near Memphis

One person was killed and 14 others were injured Thursday in a shooting at a Kroger grocery store in Collierville, Tenn., near Memphis, the town's spokesperson Jennifer Casey said, per CNN.

What they're saying: "I've been involved in [police work] for 34 years and I have never seen anything like [this]," Police Chief Dale Lane said at a press conference.