NFTs History — From Rare Pepe to Beeple 69 Million Dollar NFT sale
and how are these NFTs changing the art world
Digital art wasn’t recognized as “real” art for many years. Painting, sculptures and installations were the “real” art, while digital art was seen as “second-tier” art. However, digital artists also spend a lot of time building their art and perfecting their skills, just like more “classical” artists.
For many years, digital art and digital artists were not paid the fair share for their work. Digital artists were more like freelancers, going from gig to gig and always had a hard time making more money from their digital art.
The reason why is that it’s hard to make digital art unique. Once digital art is created, it’s very easy to be copied thousands of times across the internet, and it’s very hard to track those copies and distinguish which one was the original.
In classical painting, I know that although there are thousands of photos on Salvador Dalli “The Persistence of Memory” all over the internet, the original physical painting is owned by someone (in this case, it’s at the MOMA in New York).
Although I can copy/paste this image thousands of times, the original will always have it’s value because it’s easy to prove the ownership of the original. The original is physically locked in a museum
How can we turn digital art into something unique? NFTs!!!
The collectibles market has grown massively in the last century, with a global estimate reaching hundreds of million dollars. Crypto collectibles came into existence in the early days of Bitcoin with the creation of ColoredCoins. In 2012, Colored coins were made of small denominations of a Bitcoin and used to represent various assets on the blockchain. ColoredCoins would store some metadata related to the asset on the blockchain. Although the project didn’t gain much popularity, it was the precursor of the NFT idea.
The crypto community has begun to recognize the potential to store digital assets into the blockchain, and in 2014 a peer-to-peer financial platform called Counterparty was created on top of the bitcoin blockchain laid the foundation for modern NFTs.
In 2016 we started to have the first community-led NFTs called Rare Pepe launched in the Counterparty platform.
After this came a series of other NFTs that didn’t gain much popularity until the term NFT was finally coined with creating the ERC-721 token standard in the Ethereum blockchain.
The ERC-721 allowed the creation of new projects like Cryptokitties, which hit the mainstream in late 2017. Cryptokitties is a game built on the Ethereum network that allows players to collect, breed, and exchange cute virtual cats. It uses the ERC-721 NFT token standard and is notorious for creating congestion on the Ethereum network due to the users’ high volume of activities.
Alongside Cryptokitties, other popular projects like Cryptopunks were born (to be accurate, Cryptopunks was born a couple of months before Cryptokittines).
NFT’s stand for non-fungible tokens and are a whole new world!
Why is this Cryptokittie worth 1 million dollars? Because it’s a unique piece of art! That’s right, this and many other NFTs have a big demand in the market, increasing their value.
NFT’s are tokens that have fungibility, meaning that each token is unique and irreplaceable. They generally use the Ethereum ERC-721 standard that was introduced in the Ethereum network in January 2018 and revolutionized an entire industry.
Now, even Christies entering the NFT’s market by organizing its first NFT-based auction in February 2021. Ethereum’s NFT market has the potential to totally disrupt the art market and the way things are owned.
An NFT represents the ownership of an item. I can indeed copy/paste any image to my computer, but the ownership of that item will always be linked to someone in the Ethereum blockchain.
The artist Beeple sold a collection of his work at Nifty Gateway for 3.5 million dollars selling NFTs. In December 2020 and in February 2021 he sold an NFT auctioned by Christies for 69 million dollars. Digital artists are finally fairly recognized for their work.
Like any other art — a physical painting, sculpture, etc — Digital Art NFTs work basically the same way. They represent artwork and the ownership of that artwork. NFTs can both represent digital artwork or physical art. Digital art seems more straightforward in the world of NFTs. But yes, physical art can also be represented. In another article, I will talk about how artists are creating physical art as a mean to create a unique NFT, and burn the physical art after tokenizing it!
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Disclosure: views expressed are purely personal and do not reflect any organisation’s views or thoughts the writer of this article may be affiliated or associated with. This is NOT financial advice and I’m not recommending anything. This article is only for educational purposes.
NFTs History — From Rare Pepe to Beeple 69 Million Dollar sale to NFTs in Mars was originally published in DataDrivenInvestor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.