Skip to main content

Home Music Music News

Previously unreleased Whitney Houston demo sold for $1 million at NFT auction

The song was recorded when the legendary singer was 17

By Joe Goggins

Whitney Houston performs live in 1987
The demo was sold as part of a wider auction of Houston NFTs. (Photo: Alamy)

A previously unheard demo recorded by Whitney Houston at age 17 has sold for $1 million (£723,000).

The untitled song was auctioned on Tuesday (December 14) by an eco-conscious NFT platform, OneOf. The sale had been announced last month, as part of a wider auction of Houston NFTs that included rare archival photographs from the singer’s early life and career as well as video artwork by 17-year-old artist Diana Sinclair, inspired by Houston’s hits ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘Thee Greatest Love of All’.

The winning bidder will now have sole access to the full-length demo in the OneOfVault, as well as to an accompanying video from Sinclair. Discussing the project in a statement on the NFT collection’s OneOf page, the teenager said: “Being able to collaborate with [Houston’s] music and her family really transformed the way that I saw her in her music videos. I feel more connected to the person that she was. Some of the messages that I put across in my artwork as well, they’re very similar. Working with her voice on something like this really tied me to that time and her in a way that I wouldn’t have had before.”

The auction brought in $1.1 million (£830,000) in total. The proceeds will benefit the Whitney E. Houston Foundation, which strives to create opportunities to empower youth. Houston becomes the latest artist to have work sold as a non-fungible token. In March, Kings of Leon became the first band to release an album in an NFT format, with their eighth album, ‘When You See Yourself’, made available as unique tokens containing exclusive album artwork and limited edition ‘Golden Eye’ vinyl.

Sales of the ‘When You See Yourself’ NFTs have raised more than $2 million (£1.4million) to date, with the band donating more than a quarter of it to Live Nation’s Crew Nation fund, which supports live music crews left jobless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concept of a musical release being made available only to a single listener predates NFTs; infamously, the disgraced hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli paid $2 million (£1.45 million) in September 2017 for the sole copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’. 

It was seized by a federal court in March 2018, who then sold it to NFT firm PleasrDAO back in July for $4 million (£2.89 million), in order to cover Shkreli’s debts; the company have pledged to find ways to air it to the public.