With NFTs, crypto carves out a place in the world of digital art

Thanks to blockchain technology, even works of art can now be certified — in the style of cryptocurrencies — thanks to non-fungible tokens (NFT) which have been abounding for several weeks. And some are selling for exorbitant prices online. Last week, Vancouver artist Grimes raked in approximately C$7.5 million by selling his works as tokens. But what is it exactly? The duty takes stock of this new trend.

NFTs are unique, blockchain-based digital tokens (a decentralized digital ledger that documents transactions) that represent assets, says digital culture strategist Guillaume Déziel, who is interested in the technology. “The reason they are valuable is because they are unique. We cannot duplicate them,” he adds.

Their variations are multiple, from digital art to collectible sports video sequences. A music video created by artist Beeple, real name Mike Winkelmann, sold for a record US$6.6 million at the end of February.

Another example: a ten-second clip showing the star of the North American Basketball League (NBA) LeBron James in action sold for more than 200,000 US dollars on the Top Shot website. february. Launched at the beginning of October, the platform allows you to buy and sell video extracts – in the form of NFTs, at prices which vary according to their rarity.

The popularity of tokens has exploded in recent months, with some buyers spending from a few hundred thousand to several million to obtain them. But why pay so much to own something that you can enjoy for free online without limits? For the same reason a collector might invest millions in a Picasso painting rather than buying a reproduction—that is, to own the original.

“A lot of people don’t understand the value of an artwork in NFT form, because they think they could just copy the image from the internet. Yes of course it is possible, recognizes Sheldon Corey, a Montreal investor who owns nearly half a dozen tokens. But you could also do it with the mona-lisa — except that everyone knows very well where the real one is. »

While the popularity of NFTs is new, their existence dates back several years. The “CryptoPunks” were the very first tokens to have seen the light of day in 2017. “That’s why they’re so popular. And there are only 10,000 of them, it’s a bit like an exclusive club, ”said Mr. Corey, who has his own CryptoPunk.

“Initially, they were given away for free, but the market has developed very intensely. I paid mine for 20,000 US dollars, but there are some that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, even over a million! he adds. From now on, the investor is interested in another category of tokens very popular, the Hashmasks.

“I see it as both art collecting and investing. So far it’s been very lucrative. My CryptoPunk doubled in value, and my Hashmask went up 30%,” says Corey.

A small revolution for art?

Thanks to blockchain technology, NFTs grant a unique value to digital objects, a digital certificate of authenticity. “NFT has a history of who created it, who bought it, and for what price. It’s all very clear. So there could never be any doubts about whether it was stolen, for example,” explains Guillaume Déziel.

And this technology is disrupting the art world, to the benefit of artists, believes Mr. Corey. It makes the exhibition of their works more accessible. For example, they no longer need to be exhibited in galleries and they have access to a wider audience on the Internet. »

In Las Vegas, for example, an 18-year-old artist known as FEWOCiOUS is selling his digital works for tens of thousands of dollars. “It would be something almost impossible for a child of that age to sell these creations at such prices if it were not thanks to NFTs,” believes Mr. Corey.

Many people don’t understand the value of an artwork in the form of NFT, because they think they could only copy the image from the internet. Yes of course it is possible. But you could also do it with the mona-lisa — except that everyone knows very well where the real one is.

In a sign that NFTs are shaking things up in the art world, major auction house Christie’s has become the first to offer such a work and accept payments in Ether. The work, titled The First 5000 Days (2021), is offered in a single lot sale from February 25 to March 11.

Tweets for sale

But the NFT craze is not limited to sports videos or artistic works. Last Friday, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey released his very first tweet in the form of NFTs. The highest bid so far has been by Sina Estavi, CEO of Bridge Oracle Platform, for $2.5 million, according to Valuables. This is the very first time that a tweet is on sale.

“I admit I didn’t see it coming. It was a shock for the community, underlines Sheldon Corey. Now you could yourself put your own tweet on sale. »

If the tweet are the new form of NFT that has been popular for a few days, the investor thinks that the next step could be through literary art. “Why couldn’t poems be next tokens? he suggests.

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