July 7, 2022

The first SMS in history sold for 107,000 euros at auction

The starting price was 40,000 euros, but the auction quickly climbed, this Tuesday, December 21 at the Aguttes house, in Neuilly (Hauts-de-Seine). In five minutes, it was a Canadian who won, in front of thirty potential buyers, ten by phone, twenty in front of their computer. Only two auctions, at 58,000 then 65,000 euros, were offered by a person present in the room. After a last minute of uncertainty at 106,000 euros, the buyer, who remained anonymous, became the owner of the first SMS in the world, for the sum of 107,000 euros.

“It’s a fast, he registered four minutes before the start of the session,” jokes Claude Aguttes, auctioneer. The winner, who is known to be a professional in the new technologies sector, could even pay in cryptocurrency, as the sale of the day authorized him.

“Today we are writing a new page in the history of art”, rejoiced Maximilien Aguttes, development manager of the house of the same name, as a preamble to an auction of a new kind. Because this time, the object offered to bidders was neither a painting nor a vintage car, but an SMS, the first in history. A message sent on December 3, 1992 to an employee of the British operator Vodafone, with these two words: “Merry Christmas”.

“A testament to human and technological progress”

In the auction room, auctioneer Claude Aguttes awarded the digital object in front of a dozen journalists. A media curiosity which amuses and surprises him. “I’ve been an auctioneer for a long time, but this is one of the sales that got the most attention,” he comments. The last time I saw so many journalists, it was for the auction of personal furniture of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 2011. There was even American television! Today, it is proof of the interest of collectors and the media in NFT ”, non fungible token in English, non fungible token, in other words a digital certificate of ownership and authenticity attached to an object.

Prepared in just two weeks, compared to two months in normal times, the sale of the world’s first SMS is exciting art history enthusiasts, who wonder about the future of this digital object. “It is a historic testament to human and technological progress”, according to Maximilien Aguttes. “I am convinced that this NFT will go down in history as an important marker of our time”, abounds Claude Aguttes. Thanks to NFTs, it is therefore possible to make a virtual object unique, and even to increase its value.

Money from the sale donated to help refugees

The lucky winner of the day now has in his possession an acrylic base on which rests a screen which broadcasts the communication protocol that transmitted the first SMS in history. He will also get a Certificate of Authenticity handed out by Vodafone CEO Nick Read.

Neuilly-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine), this Tuesday. The winner of this auction will get this acrylic base protecting a screen on which is broadcast the communication code of the SMS. LP/Auguste Canier

This SMS illustrates the effervescence around digital works for several months. Last March, for example, Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet for $ 2.9 million. As desired by Vodafone, the profits from this auction will have to be donated to UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee Aid.