NFT is an acronym that doesn’t roll off the tongue and it certainly hasn’t slid into the lexicon with the same ease as Bitcoin or crypto currencies. Non-Fungible token is even tougher to chew on, but this unique part of the art world now conservatively represents over $22 billion dollars in sales in 2021 alone – up from just $88 million in 2020. This corner of the art world has attracted serious attention from collectors, investors and of course speculators. The artist known as Beeple sold his, “The First 5000 Days” in March of 2021 through Christie’s for $69.3 million.
Christie’s noted that 22 million people logged into the NFT sale and of those, 60% of the audience were under the age of 40 years.
NFTs represent a one of a kind digital collectible secured by the Ethereum blockchain that cannot be duplicated, destroyed or removed. In essence you are acquiring ownership rights to a digital image only. The NFTs digital certificates of ownership are almost exclusively bought with cryptocurrencies. The digital certificate is verifiable and signifies that the item is the only one of its kind.
At the moment, the bulk of the market for NFTs is concentrated in the U.S.A. with just over 90% of the buyers with Hong Kong making up another 6% of the market. The NFT market is unique – the sale of an item that has no physical presence. Many countries have difficulty with legislating the sale of non tangible products. For example, until recently, the marketing of intangible items did not have a legal framework in France. The French senate has just recently passed legislation allowing for the sale of intangible moveable property.
Traditional business models recognize there is money to be made in this burgeoning market. NFTs are not the exclusive domain for new works of art, as existing art can be imaged and secured as an NFT. The British Museum began their foray into this new digital marketplace by selling NFTs of art already in their collection. Beginning with Hokusai, the British Museum has moved onto selling some of J.M.W. Turner’s rarest works as NFTs.
The Prado and Louvre are sure to follow. Christie’s & Sotheby’s auction houses now host their own dedicated NFT auctions. It is now possible to visit the world’s first NFT Museum in Seattle. Even sport organizations such as the NBA now sells NFTs of video plays and game highlights.
Julian Lennon entered the NFT market by selling NFTs of 3 Gibson guitars used by his father John Lennon, along with NFTs of the Afghan coat worn by Lennon for the album Magical Mystery Tour, the black cape John wore for the album Help, as well as the original notes for the hit Hey Jude. Paris Hilton sold a digital version of her pet chihuahua Tinkerbell. Rest assured, there will be more celebrity NFTs to come.
Although more traditional art styles can be found in the NFT marketplace, a quick perusal of the auction market, outside of the traditional auction houses, shows a plethora of animated characters and figures stylistically leaning heavily towards those found in Anime and video games. One of the most successful collections of NFTs is produced by Yuga Labs, with their “Bored Ape” collection. Other popular NFTs are Lobstars or Lazy Lions. You can find NFT items for sale on numerous sites such as Opensea, SuperRare and Rarible, and Nifty Gateway to name a few.
The NFT market has become massive and influential in a very short space of time. The breadth of NFT art styles is equally as large and increasing exponentially. Attaining art or collectibles in a secure digital only format is not for everyone but this new market is here to stay and it’s evolution should be an interesting one.
Beeple – photo courtesy of Christie’s
J.M.W. Turner – photo courtesy of British Museum
Tinkerbell – photo courtesy of Paris Hilton
Bored Ape Yacht Club – photo courtesy of Opensea
Guest Author Bio
I grew up with artists and developed a passion for art in its many facets, from paintings to industrial design. Throughout my life I have collected, researched and sold many creations. My business, Leeder Tresors, focuses on auctions of paintings ranging from modernist pieces to post impressionist works. I welcome consignments from personal collections and estates.
Website: Leeder Tresors
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