Assuming you’ve been online at all this week you’ll know about the record-breaking auction of an NFT this week that had chins wagging and jaws dropping in the art and crypto world this week. But the big question was, who decided dropping almost $70 million on a .JPG was a good use of their (admittedly ample) disposable income? First, a little context is in order.
So, there are these things called Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which are essentially digital assets like virtual artwork, music files, and digital sneakers (!) that are recorded on the (usually Ethereum) blockchain and worth something on cryptomarkets (Linkin Park’s frontman, Mike Shinoda, recently explained them pretty well).
One well-known digital artist, Beeple, recently put some work up for auction through Christie’s, which was the first time the company accepted cryptocurrency bids. Earlier this week, Beeple’s lot, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” sold for $69.3 million. The buyer? “MetaKovan,” the anonymous person or persons behind Metapurse, an organization “which collects NFTs to display in the metaverse through virtual museums,” according to CNBC.
Surely, no one has any questions after reading that? But on the off-chance one of you does, feel free to meet us after this palate-cleansing photo of a real puppy taken in the real world by, presumably, a real person with an actual name.
Where does everyone go from here? — Aww. That’s a very cute dog. Okay, where were we? Oh, right: The complete collapse of both reality and traditional economics. At this stage, it’s unclear who, exactly, the person or people coughing up $69.3 million for a digital artwork is. This is unnerving, because simply knowing there are multiple instances of this sort of astronomic wealth in anonymous hands is worrying, no matter how altruistic they may appear. Then again, it bears remembering that we still don’t know who created Bitcoin. Although it possibly could be sentient AI, but that’s a story for another time...
Nor do we know how this whole NFT trend will continue to unfurl. Will the proliferation of NFT assets blow-up the conventional art world, or will it become relegated to being yet another overpriced, overhyped, exclusive subculture? It certainly feels like its current trajectory isn’t sustainable in any sense of the word, although hell, a collection of ones and zeros representing an image just sold for almost $70 million, so anything is possible.
Metaverse museums are good in theory (we think) — As MetaKovan’s spokesperson, Twobadour (look, we’ve given up at this point, too) explained to CNBC, “the goal is not to make money, but to decentralize and democratize art so token holders everywhere can share a piece of history and share the wealth.” In this sense, Twobadour likened it to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), but instead of paying expensive admission prices, people could purchase portions of the actual work on display. That’s pretty cool, right?
Well, this is all starting to sound a bit more sensible... except Twobadour added that, in Beeple, the NFT world has “created a god.” Oy vey.