The Rise of NFTs: When Art Becomes Cryptocurrency

Artwork captured in purely digital form: This is the new phenomenon of NFTs, a kind of digital equivalent of title deeds. The market is approaching, since the beginning of the year, a billion dollars in transactions.

C’est une courte animation de dix secondes, qui montre ce qui ressemble à un gigantesque corps nu de l’ex-président américain Donald Trump, gribouillé de slogans, gisant dans un parc et devant lequel passent des badauds quire nê gu be careful.

This digital work by artist Beeple – whose real name is Mike Winkelmann – was sold on Friday, February 26, by American collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile for $6.6 million. He had gotten it five months earlier for just $67,000. Impressive capital gain and record transaction in the unknown world of NFTs.

From the artist Grimes to Christie’s

These are, in fact, three messages that mean nothing to the general public. But to a growing number of artists, investors, dealers, collectors or technology enthusiasts, these NFTs represent the new El Dorado.

This acronym stands for non-fungible token, or non-fungible tokens, which are “unique digital assets that reside on the blockchain [un registre public en ligne de toutes les transactions dématérialisées, NDLR] They can represent any other type of product, whether virtual — such as photos or videos — or real, such as paintings and real estate, explains Nadia Ivanova, COO of L’Atelier BNP Paribas, an independent subsidiary of the French bank specializing in research and forecasting, France 24 called him.

These NFTs are the digital equivalent of title deeds. Thus, collector Pablo Rodriguez-Frail did not resell the Beeple clip as such, but the NFT created by the artist for his video. The unique characteristics of his creation were coded. Gauthier Zuppinger, co-founder of Nonfungible.com, the most important platform in the world of market analysis, NFT, explains, contacted by France 24.

These NFTs are captured. Canadian artist Claire Elise Boucher, better known by the stage name Grime, was sold at 20 Minutes, Sunday, February 28, for her collection of drawings and images inspired by Norse mythology – an operation that fetched her $5.8 million. French street artist Pascal Boyart (PBoy) has had no trouble finding buyers for NFTs for his latest painting, the Underground Sistine Chapel, a 100-meter-tall mural painted on the wall of a former gold smelter from Ivry-sur-Seine.

The famous auction house Christie’s has also taken over the NFT era. She is currently organizing her first “Cryptographic Art” sale of a Beeple poster. “This is a completely new area for us and within 10 minutes there were already hundreds of participants with bids over a million dollars,” Noah Davis, a specialist in contemporary art, told Christie’s in an interview with Reuters.

New templates for artists

Experts at Nonfungible.com, who have produced an annual inventory of the NFT market since 2018, note that interest in its non-physical tokens has spread. “There were $983 million in transactions in the first two months of the year, nearly five times what it was in all of 2020,” said Gauthier Zubinger.

A huge surge in power for a digital asset that’s only been around since 2017. At the time, the first innovations based on NFT technology to achieve some success were Cryptopunks, a string of 10,000 lowercase letters made of pixels that were distributed freely online from Larva. California Labs. Gauthier Zuppinger notes: “Today they trade a minimum of $40K, and some Cryptopunks are selling over $1M.”

But we have to wait until 2020 for the sauce to really start to solidify. Nadya Ivanova of Atelier BNP Paribas asserts that “well-known brands, such as NBA, video game publisher Ubisoft or even F1 have developed products supported by NTFs, which have made it possible to appeal to a wider audience.”

The NBA’s “best shots”, in particular, have contributed a lot to the popularity of these teams. These are short videos of the best NBA star actions that you can get the rights to. On February 21, 2021, the NBA in 30 minutes sold $2.6 million in “Top shots”.

For artists, NFTs are a real boon. “They make it possible to develop new revenue models,” says Nadia Ivanova. Thus, it is possible to encode these digital token clauses that state that each time their work is resold, they receive a portion of the price. “It’s a way to get recurring income,” says the expert from L’Atelier BNP Paribas.

New boon for speculators ?

But what’s the point of having an NFT for a painting or piece of street art that you can’t display in your living room? Or even for a short video that everyone can watch for free on Twitter or YouTube? This new technology is currently experiencing a “gold rush similar to that which has benefited from cryptocurrencies,” Gauthier Zubinger estimates.

In other words, some of the new converts to NFT are speculators hoping to take advantage of the current boom. A phenomenon that owes a lot to the health crisis. “There is a huge amount of liquidity available in the markets right now thanks to central bank stimulus packages to support economic activity, investors are looking for investments that pay off and it is often risky assets like NFTs that can help win (or lose) big.” , summarizes Natalie Jansson, an economist and cryptocurrency specialist at Neoma Business School, contacted by France 24.

Gauthier Zubinger emphasizes that it’s not just stockbrokers who run the NFT planet. “We also meet an increasing number of wealthy art collectors who see in these works new areas to satisfy their passion, enthusiasts of new technologies who have made their fortune with cryptocurrencies and who believe it is necessary to invest in these works of art. They offer new perspectives that still need to be explored.” It remains to be seen what new opportunities immaterial titles will create.

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