It was an auction like no other. When it opened on February 7 at 2 p.m. GMT, the equivalent of more than $40 million in crypto currency had already been raised to bid on the single-edition NFT artwork titled “Clock”. When the auction closed 48 hours later, the winning bid was 16,593 ether, or more than $52 million, pooled from a group of supporters of Julian Assange.

The prized object, which is part of an NFT collection called “Censored”, is not something one can take home, like, say, one of Louis XIV’s famous clocks; rather it’s a dynamic generative artwork that exists only in a digital format, changes daily, and was created with a very specific goal: to free Julian Assange through raising funds for his legal defense and raising awareness of the free-speech implications of his case.

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