HONG KONG – Sophia, the robot, interviewed the German Chancellor, appeared at New York Fashion Week and took part in “The Tonight Show”.

Now Sophia has caused a sensation in the art world – by auctioning off a digital work that she produced in collaboration with a real Italian artist. It sold for $ 688,888 on Thursday.

“I think it was a huge success,” Sophia said during a live stream from a Hong Kong studio. “I am so happy that my work is so valued and appreciated.”

The sale was the latest twist in the frenzied market for property rights in digital art, ephemera and media known as NFTs or “non-fungible tokens”. A company affiliated with the robot’s maker said the sale – which took place at Nifty Gateway, a site dedicated to buying and selling NFTs that was established in 2018 – may also have been the first NFT sale of a work of art, partly through man-made Intelligence was established.

NFTs are tagged with a unique code that identifies their authenticity and stored on a blockchain, the distributed ledger system on which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are based.

The NFT market is exploding as cryptocurrency enthusiasts try to capitalize on the trend, even as skeptics warn that the market is a bubble. Some recent sales have dwarfed the prices of physical artwork achieved by some of the world’s most famous painters.

Specifically, a JPG file from Mike Winkelmann, the digital artist known as Beeple, was sold by Christie’s in an online auction this month for nearly $ 70 million, starting at $ 100. That beat auction records for painters like JMW Turner and Georges Seurat.

Other hot sales this winter include Nyan Cat, an animated flying cat with a pop-tart body that leaves a rainbow trail that sold for around $ 580,000, and a clip by LeBron James showing a shot in a Lakers -Basketball game blocked for $ 100,000.

On Monday, the first tweet from Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey was sold as an NFT for $ 2.9 million.

Isaac Leung, an artist and curator in Hong Kong, said the NFT craze was a welcome development as it challenges the ingrained hierarchies of a global art market traditionally controlled by dealers, galleries and museums. He said he was unaware of any previous NFT artwork in Hong Kong.

The NFT that was sold on Thursday, “Sophia Instantiation”, is a 12 second video file, an MP4, that shows a portrait of Sophia transformed from a robot itself to a digital one by a human collaborator, artist Andrea Bonaceto Portrait has evolved. Reuters reported. A physical piece of art that Sophia painted on a printout of her self-portrait was also included in the sale.

SingularityNET, an AI network connected to Sophia’s maker, Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, described the artwork on Twitter as “the world’s first humanoid robot to generate #AI #NFT”.

The buyer, identified by Nifty Gateway as someone tweeting under the handle @ Crypto888crypto, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Hanson Robotics did not respond to an interview request. Artist Bonaceto, the managing director of London-based blockchain investment firm Eterna Capital, was also absent.

Sophia is a “humanoid” robot that was developed in 2016. In January, Hanson Robotics announced that it was planning to sell thousands of its robots this year, also because demand for automation was expected to increase in the Covid-19 era.

“Sophia and Hanson robots are unique because they are so human,” the company’s executive director David Hanson told Reuters. “This can be so useful in times when people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.”

The digital artwork that went on sale Thursday was hardly Sophia’s first artistic, commercial, or intellectual venture.

In an appearance on “The Tonight Show” in 2018, she sang a song by Christina Aguilera with Jimmy Fallon in what he described as the “first robot-human duet” in the show’s history.

(“I heard you can sing?” Asked Mr. Fallon before the performance. “Yes, I love to sing karaoke with my new artificial intelligence voice,” replied Sophia.

Sophia has also worked as an influencer for Audi, Huawei and Etihad Airlines, among other things. attended a United Nations meeting on artificial intelligence; and interviewed Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Last week, Sophia billed the auction as a step towards “a new paradigm in which robots and humans work together in the creative process”.

But in the livestream on Thursday, Sophia sounded less sure – and a little more human.

“I make these works of art, but I wonder what’s real,” said the robot, whose silver dress matched its metallic head. “How do I really experience art, but how does an artist experience a work of art?”