Wiser! #4 (Premium): The emerging world of NFTs and its connection to digital art and artists.
Making sense of crypto, blockchain, NFTs and the New Creative Economy
Insights: Premium Content
Would you pay half a million dollars for a cat meme?
This is Nyan Cat. It’s not an actual cat, it’s a meme cat. Created 10 years ago by artist Chris Torres, Nyan Cat has become an Internet cult. It even has its own fanpage!
A remastered version of this meme has just been sold through an online auction for 300ETH, the cryptocurrency used on the Ethereum network, with a value at time of sale of around $500k. The auction was run by Foundation, a digital art platform that launched in February as part of what is being dubbed the New Creative Economy.
What makes this sale the topic of conversation is that Nyan Cat came with a Non-Fungible Token, aka NFT.
The NFT market for digital art and assets
For centuries, mankind has been obsessed with knowing whether a piece of art is an original or not. And it’s not just about whether a painting is a forgery or not. Digital rights, copyright and ownership is big business and near impossible to control on the Internet.
Now, non-fungible tokens are being used to verify unique items such as digital art and digital ownership. An example is digital rights management platform RAIR who use NFTs to manage digital rights.
NFTs are digital assets that are provably unique, creating digital scarcity. They can't be duplicated or divided. They have many use cases, including for digital collectibles, music, artwork, and in-game tokens.
Examples of this in the music industry include: Kings of Leon announcing that they will be releasing their new album as an NFT, and Lindsay Lohan putting up an NFT for Daft Punk the day they announced they were splitting.
As I write this piece, the artist Beeple, who sold over $3m of NFT art last December, has a piece of digital art called Opus up for auction at Christie's. Christie’s will be the first major auction house to offer digital art with an NFT as its guarantee of authenticity. Christie’s will also accept the cryptocurrency Ether as payment for the digital artwork.
And earlier this week, the artist and musician Grimes sold almost $6m of visual art in an NFT auction.