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Robots or Rembrandt? AI artwork to be put up for auction at Christie's

With an asking price around £7,000 to £9,000, an artificial intelligence (AI) generated portrait is the first of its kind to go on sale at Christie's.

The Portrait of Edmond Belamy may look familiar as it was created by specialist technology which scanned around 15,000 portraits between the 14th and 20th centuries.

Paris-based tech group Obvious used a machine learning algorithm Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) so they could produce 11 portraits of the fictional Belamy family.

Although the work is not of a real family or by a real artist, the Belamys are akin to the developer of GANs, Ian Goodfellow, whose surname loosely translates to 'bel ami' in French.

With the help of over 15,000 images, the tech group could make new artwork. Credit: Obvious

Previous AI developers have produced artwork with the help of computers but none have been deemed good enough for sale.

The tech collective said on a blog post: "This new approach is likely to result in the appearance of a new type of art. Although it will not replace artists, it brings up a new perspective.

"Rather than the artwork itself, we believe that the value of this project lays in the debate it can create."

In February, the creative group sold one of eleven of their AI portraits to a french collector for more than £9,000.

Furthermore, Hugo Caselles-Dupré, Pierre Fautrel and Gauthier Vernier are set to fetch a similar amount for the Edmond Belamy piece which will go towards more innovative ideas such as 3D modeling.

They added: "We also chose to put the artwork to auction, to finance further research. The money will be used to finance the computation power needed to produce this type of artwork and use new mediums like 3D printing."

Their AI-made art is currently on view in Christie's London showroom before both prints and multiples go on sale between October 23-25.