Last month, buoyed by a $1.5 billion Bitcoin investment from Tesla, the electric-car company run by Elon Musk, and support from major institutional investors including hedge funds, the total value of cryptocurrencies hit a high of more than $1 trillion. The value of crypto-traded NFT art also soared, setting prices that are out of kilter with the rest of the art market.
Another Beeple piece, “Crossroad” — a 10-second video NFT showing animated pedestrians walking past a giant, naked likeness of Donald J. Trump, collapsed on the ground and covered in graffiti — sold for $6.6 million in Ether on Nifty Gateway. The seller was Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, who had brought the piece in October for about $67,000, according to Reuters.
NFTs have also become a medium of choice for new performance artists. On Sunday, Burnt Banksy, an anonymous group of “tech and art enthusiasts,” sold a unique NFT consisting of a digital copy of a 2006 Banksy limited-edition print called “Morons.” The group claimed it had destroyed the original print, worth tens of thousands of dollars, in an “art burning ceremony,” shown on YouTube and Twitter. The blockchain-certified “Morons” NFT was all that remained.
Offered on Open Sea, this digital copy of the Banksy sold for about $382,000, more than three times the price that any of the original “Morons” prints have made at auction. The successful bidder was an Open Sea user with the screen name GALAXY, who immediately put the piece up for sale.
Although their popularity has increased in recent months, NFTs are nothing new. In 2017, when the value of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum first began to climb, there was a speculative craze for Dapper Labs’ CryptoKitties, blockchain-certified images of cats, the rarest of which sold for more than $100,000.
The price of cryptocurrencies collapsed in 2018, and with it the nascent market for NFTs. But now Dapper Labs has recapitalized and collaborated with the National Basketball Association to create N.B.A. Top Shot, a marketplace for digital highlight clips that are the tech equivalent of baseball cards. On Thursday, these had raised $345 million in sales, mostly in the past 30 days, according to Cryptoslam, a site that tracks the prices of NFTs.