'The Black Swan' Becomes the Cheapest Work of Art in History, Powered By c-lightning
Lightning Network

'The Black Swan' Becomes the Cheapest Work of Art in History, Powered By c-lightning


This past week, influential Bitcoin artist “Cryptograffiti” ran an auction for a piece of “micro art”. The goal of the auction was to not only sell one of the smallest pieces of artwork ever, but to sell it for the absolute smallest amount possible.

To accomplish this, Cryptograffiti collaborated with Blockstreamer “Grubles” to use Blockstream’s c-lightning implementation, which supports Lightning Network payments as small as 0.00000000001 bitcoin (or 1 millisatoshi!).

At the conclusion of the auction, 77 bids totalling 0.00182252 BTC were submitted via Lightning micropayments. The winner, @BTC_Spot, was the first to submit a 1 millisatoshi bid which, in US dollars terms, was the equivalent of $0.000000037!

In order to facilitate an auction-style event for the artwork, two other components (also built by Blockstream) were used to create a frontend website where auction-goers could visit and submit their bids:

Lightning Charge was used with c-lightning to provide an HTTP REST API for generating Lightning payment invoices. A cosmetically-modified Nanotip instance was used to provide a simple and lightweight frontend for bidders to quickly submit their bids.

Micropayments like these are possible for the first time thanks to Lightning. We don’t think “lowest bid” auctions like these will have too many applications in real commerce, but we are definitely very excited about the new online content models that will emerge as micropayments become more widespread.

Interested in building LApps with c-lightning and Lightning Charge? Check out our Week of LApps series of blog posts and head over to the #c-lightning and #lightning-charge IRC channels to chat with the developers!

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