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MARCH 22, 2021          BY: ZOë MANN

How much would you pay for an artwork you can’t hang on the wall? Apparently, some people would pay up to $69.3 million. On March 11th , Beeple or Mike Winkelmann, sold his ‘The First 5000 Days’; a set of digital works for almost $70 million making Beeple the third richest living artist next to David Hockney and Jeff Koons.

So, what is a NFT? NFT stands for non-fungible tokens. These NFTs are linked together on a blockchain. Fungible itself means it’s tradeable with other assets of the same value. However, these artworks are non-fungible meaning that each NFT is unique from the other making them valuable. When someone buys a NFT from an artist, they are buying a digital file of the work with a unique artist’s signature. In a sense the buyer of the NFT isn’t buying a physical artwork, but a certificate of ownership in order to prove that they indeed own this unique NFT. For example, the original GIF of the 2011 hit meme, Nyan Cat: a cat with a pop tart body riding a rainbow, sold as a NFT for 600,000 dollars last month.

Whatever you may think about NFTs, there are some good reasons why NFTs should stay. NFTs have proven to be beneficial for independent artists who had trouble selling their prints at art fairs previously. Now, an independent artist can post a digital file of their work and make thousands of dollars in a matter of days. Also, NFTs cause less hassle for art collectors. Most art collectors buy art with the goal to resell at a higher price later. That’s how the art market is and has been operated for generations. Now, art collectors don’t have to contact galleries or auction houses or hire art handlers to pack up the work and ship it to their temperature-controlled warehouse. They can buy NFTs online and hold the file on a special folder in their hard drive. Lastly, NFTs cannot be forged. Once a NFT is made, it’s almost impossible to change the file. This is good for concert halls and stadiums where tickets can be sold as NFTs and have no way of being altered.

However, there is always the other side of the coin. NFTs use a lot of electricity causing environmentalists to question if the rise of NFTs will later cause large damage on our planet. Also, artists have found their work for sale on NFT marketplaces without their consent. Just because a NFT cannot be forged doesn’t mean someone can’t steal or create their own file of someone else’s work and sell it themselves as NFTs. If NFTs increase in popularity, it’s clear there needs to be a better way to track these NFT sellers in order to prevent future scams. 

The real question is, are NFTs here to stay? There isn’t a clear answer! That’s the issue with any new online phenomena because there is no guarantee that NFTs will continue to be popular. If NFTs go out of style, all of these sales would be for nothing. The art collectors who bought in order to resell will find themselves with a file that doesn’t cost anything more than they paid. However, for now, NFTs seem to be making a permanent space in the art market. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, is selling the first tweet right now. As of last week, the bid was at 2.5

million dollars. Maybe you should put in a bid and own a piece of internet history and enter the world of NFTs.

Update: Jack Dorsey's NFT sold for $2.9 Million March 22nd.