AI art: Algorithm-generated portrait fetches $432,500 at NY auction: Christie's

Yolanda Curtis
October 28, 2018

In the Prints & Multiples sale at Christie's, Portrait of Edmond Belamy sold for an incredible $432,500, signalling the arrival of AI art on the world auction stage.

The painting on canvas depicts the portrait of a portly gentleman, possibly a Frenchman from a church judged by his dark frockcoat and plain white collar, Christie's said in a press release.

Portrait by AI program sells for $432,000

Proving that artificial intelligence can do more than write hilarious and/or terrifying commercials, the portrait - titled Portrait of Edmond Belamy - was sold by Christies in NY. Fautrel insists that it is art since they decided to make it even if algorithm created it.

Credit where it's due: The three members of the French art collective behind it, Obvious, have been accused of failing to credit the algorithm's creator-Robbie Barrat, an artist and programmer who shared his code on GitHub via an open-source license. First, they put a collection of 15,000 portraits into a machine learning system.


The Discriminator - another part of the algorithm - then determined the difference between the human-made art and that produced by the Generator.

The first piece of art created entirely by AI sold at a major art auction for way more than anyone anticipated. "It's just the beginning it's so fascinating what is going to be created", he said. It understood rules of portraiture using a new algorithm developed by a Google researcher and created new images by itself. "But we found that portraits provided the best way to illustrate our point, which is that algorithms are able to emulate creativity", said Hugo Caselles-Dupré of Obvious.


"The aim is to fool the discriminator into thinking that the new images are real-life portraits".

The complex computer algorithm was created to be able to emulate human creativity.


Earlier it was reported that scientists have created artificial intelligence, able to find people by description. "Then we have a result".

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