Elon Musk may have opted out of the ongoing NFT gold rush, after he initially made an NFT on a techno song about NFTs – and then opted out of it. The rest of the world, however, appears to be in the process of cashing in. After art and auction houses, (and billionaires) news organizations and galleries also seem to be joining in on the trend. Quartz has converted an article into an NFT, a digital asset that essentially serves as its own certificate of ownership and authenticity. They’re, however, not the first. Associated Press sold its non-fungible token artwork on March 11 for a hefty sum only eight days putting it up for auction. The artwork, titled “The Associated Press calls the 2020 Presidential Election on Blockchain – A View from Outer Space,” sold for roughly 100 ETH (+3.79%) ($180,000), according to data from NFT marketplace OpenSea. News organizations aren’t alone.
The art market’s interest in NFTs doesn’t appear to be calming down anytime soon. While Christie’s scored a big hit with the record-breaking sale of Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5,000 Days,” Sotheby’s is hoping to generate the same interest by partnering with digital artist Pak. Details of the collaboration are still being kept under wraps for now.
“Coming Soon.” These are the words Sotheby’s used to announce its upcoming NFT collaboration with the anonymous digital artist, Pak. While details of the event are still being kept under wraps, the auction house introduced its new partner as an “omniscient designer/developer/wizard” and “a leading figure in the design scene and on social media.”
All qualities explain why Sotheby’s chose Pak for its upcoming sale. “We wanted to partner with Pak because we are entering a whole new world with digital art, and we felt it was important to work with an artist who has been active in the community for many years,” explains the auction house in a press statement. “While we can’t yet reveal full details of what’s to come, we want to be true to the democratic spirit of crypto and will be working together to attract as many people as possible to take part in this next adventure, so prepare for some surprises.”
The announcement of this new “NFT-esque” collaboration comes a few weeks after Christie’s made headlines following the record-breaking sale of Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5,000 Days” for $69.3 million in what was a historic moment for digital art.
“Artists have been using hardware and software to create artwork and distribute it on the internet for the last 20 plus years but there was never a real way to truly own and collect it. With NFTs that has now changed. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history, digital art. This is work that has just as much craft, message, nuance and intent as anything made on a physical canvas and I am beyond honored and humbled to represent the digital art community in this historic moment,” he stated.
Christie’s said it also marks the first time a major auction house has offered a digital-only artwork with a non-fungible token as a guarantee of its authenticity, as well as the first time cryptocurrency has been used to pay for an artwork at auction. The sale of the work also put Beeple in the top three most valuable living artists.
But it’s not just artwork – memes are also NFT.
Remember Nyan cat? Who would have thought that an animated flying cat leaving a rainbow trail would become the next big thing at auction? Chris Torres did. The creator of the “Nyan Cat” recently offered a one-of-a-kind version of his viral GIF on Foundation, a website for buying and selling digital goods. It fetched roughly $454,000.
Nyan cat isn’t the only meme that sold – Bad Luck Brian also found some good luck. The iconic original image has been sold for $36,134 (Rs 26 lakh approx.) as a non-fungible token (NFT) on March 11. ‘Bad Luck Brian’ meme was popularised in 2012 showing a yearbook photo of Kyle Craven, then a blonde boy wearing a plaid sweater vest smiling with braces.
The curve is also just starting – the first NFT artwork to be auctioned was by Christie’s. The first Oscar-nominated movie to be released as an NFT was Adam Benzine’s “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah.” The first tweet by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey was sold as an NFT. The first NFT album was ‘Kings of Leon’s ‘When You See Yourself.’
So what really, really is an NFT? NFTs are not physical assets but digital properties that exist in the blockchain. An NFT essentially symbolises ownership of a certain physical item. Since it’s stored in blockchain, it is transparent and thus cannot be copied or stolen. James Murphy, CEO of Future Fallout, writes that that just like a concert ticket symbolises the ownership of the space of a seat in the concert arena, and a Bitcoin represents the underlying value of the digital currency in physical currency, an NFT symbolises the ownership of an item that has been digitised.
What does the future hold for NFTS? Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first-ever tweet was turned into an NFT and auctioned at the current highest bid of $2.5 million. Musician and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s girlfriend Grimes’ art collection titled ‘WarNymph’ was released on February 28, and sold for $5.8 million (Rs 424,891,760) as NFT. Injective Protocol, the firm behind the auction, told the media that it is currently in talks with another popular artist who has signed on to convert his artwork into a digitised token. NFT represents an interesting intersection between art and technology. According to artist Trevor Jones, the digital art market is poised to grow and might easily reach US$67 billion in size in the near future.