Beeple sold one JPEG photo for $69.3M in early March, thumping J.M.W. Turner, Georges Seurat, Francisco Goya, and countless other historical artists.
The artwork, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, was auctioned at Christie’s, a gallery dating back to 1766. Beeple made and released one image every day over 13 years and then collaged every piece in a wide JPEG image offered as an NFT. Observers can follow how technology and style changed through the years of the digital revolution.
You can watch Beeple’s reaction in the final moments of the auction at Christie’s and see what it feels for an artist to make almost 70 million dollars.
So, how does a digital image sell for the price of prime-time real estate? Can’t anyone take a screenshot and save it on a computer? What does NFT even stand for?
Let’s answer all that and more.
To make sense out of this why NFTs are hot right now, here are 25 punchy stats and thoughts to clear things up:
- Non-fungible tokens can be shared and consumed but not duplicated, creating digital scarcity and proof of ownership.
- People who dislike stocks, and cryptocurrency, can now directly store value in retail digital art.
- NFTs are helping international artists sell their work, pay rent and buy food.
- Blockchain technology makes no room for forgery, helping artists set up their show without legal work in setting trademarks, copyrights, and chasing royalties.
- Non-fungible tokens can take the form of music, photos, and any other digital collectible, including books, blogs, or even Tweets.
- NFTs are supported on the Etherium network, currently driven by proof-of-work, which helps communicate account balances and transaction orders to protect users from double charges.
- The original artist can opt-in to automatically collect royalty from every transaction. Smart contracts enable perpetuated payment for all future transactions.
- Beeple’s JPEG is the 3rd most expensive artwork ever sold. Metakovan, the buyer, believes it’s ultimately worth $1 billion, which dwarfs the price of any artwork ever sold. The artwork is a first-ever digital piece to be auctioned at Christie’s.
- The anti-forging industry is a $1 billion YoY business and forged art turs over $6 billion YoY.
- The total volume of all traded NFTs is $431 million, hardly even breadcrumbs compared to the art-forging industry.
- Animated Flying Rainbow Cat with a PopTart body meme sold for nearly $600,000, becoming the first privately owned NFT meme.
- CryptoPunks are the first non-fungible digital art ever created. The project came to life in 2017, boosting the Ethereum ERC-721 standard that fuels most of today’s NFT art.
- Larva Labs generated 10,000 CryptoPunks for $44. Today, the average price of one Crypunk is $26,101, and $186M is the total value generated selling the art collectibles.
- Ether’s price was $320 at the time the first NFTs were minted. The price of one Ether is $1,805 today, 1361 days later. Here’s the original contract.
- Minting NFTs is free at Opensea.io, but listing them for sale costs a pretty penny. The price can reach $140 or more at times, with an average of $90 for March 2021.
- NFT hype is underway. However, similar hype ballooned the internet in the early 2000s. The bubble burst, but the internet is still a major part of our lives. You’re reading this story from the internet.
- NBA’s Top Shots sold over $200 million in a move to support the league during COVID restrictions.
- Crypto art is not all rainbows and teddy bears. Artists are finally getting paid, but minting NFTs potentially demands massive energy expenditure, affecting climate change.
- One minted NFT possibly produces 211 kg of CO2 — equivalent to a return flight from London to Rome or month-long energy consumption by a European household. (Energy cost is potentially 400x higher, according to highly skeptical estimates.)
- SuperRare (NFT marketplace) rejects all potential environmental damage claims, arguing that energy expenditure wouldn’t change if the whole world stops selling NFTs today.
- The University of Cambridge features a section on common misconceptions. Cambridge agrees with SuperRar’s argument about blockchain’s low-to-minimal environmental impact.
- NFTs date back to 2012 when Colored Coins tried to embed proof of ownership within a Satoshi, the tinies units of Bitcoin. However, the technology didn’t support such behavior, and Colored Coins never lived up to the expectations.
- NFTs truly hit the mainstream 2017, starting with CryptoKitties and CriptoPunks. CryptoKitties is a game on Etherium where users can adopt and raise virtual cats.
- NFTs have opened doors to virtual real estate. Decentraland is a digital world where users can purchase, build and monetize virtual plots of land.
- Gary Vaynerchuk, a famous marketing guru, believes that he’s going to be involved with NFT’s for the rest of his life.
Non-fungible tokens are a big drop in an even bigger block-sea
Blockchain records ownership and perpetuates the original artist through every upcoming sale. NFT technology makes it virtually impossible to claim others’ work, which is a common occurrence in the world of professional art.
Ownership is an inherent part of human nature. Kids gladly buy game items with real money. Collectors spend million on baseball cards. And digital enthusiasts buy NFT art. Starting a gallery similar to LondonPunks is exciting for any creative soul.
We’re witnessing the birth of scarce digital art for the first time in history.
Non-fungible tokens have astonishing macro applications, similar to the internet of the 1980s and 1990s. However, early-day internet services are not around anymore, and the same could happen with today’s NFT projects.