If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you’ve probably heard about NTFs and how they’re affecting the art and collectibles markets. But you won’t find NFTs at yard sales, rummage sales, or thrift shops. In fact, like Bitcoin, NFTs don’t exist in the “real” world at all.
Short for Non-Fungible Token, an NFT is a uniquely identifiable (no two are identical!) digital asset backed by the blockchain (aka, digital ledger) technology that undergirds cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Dash, and Ethereum. (Unlike NTFs, cryptocurrencies are considered Fungible Tokens since, like regular coins and bills, they are not one-of-a-kind and are, thus, interchangeable.)
Since every NFT is unique and its provenance readily available, it lends itself particularly well to the buying and selling of all manner of items, including art and collectibles. For example, artists have been producing digital art for over 20 years, but until NFTs they could not guarantee that any particular work on the internet was an original and not one of myriad digital copies. Now, however, artists can not only attach what amounts to digital signatures to their works, but they can more easily sell their works directly to interested buyers, who are provided proof of transfer of ownership through the blockchain.
Earlier versions of NFTs had been experimented with, but 2017 is generally agreed to be their breakout year with the release of CryptoPunks in June and CryptoKitties in October. Exactly 10,000 computer-generated CryptoPunks were offered for free. There appeared to be little interest at first, but prices began to spike as the supply ran out and collectors began to buy and sell. Today, four of the nine rare Alien Punks hold sales records of from $1.3 to $7.6 million each!
CryptoKitties is a virtual game in which one can collect and “breed” one-of-a-kind cats that can be adopted by someone else – for the right price. Some of the earliest versions of the digital felines have fetched prices in the hundreds and even thousands (the record is $172,000), but the average price is presently hovering around $60.
Of course, now everyone is getting into the act:
- Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey recently sold an NFT of his first ever tweet for over $2.9 million (which he gave to charity).
- The NBA hosts a site, NBA Top Shot, that sells limited edition “moments” from NBA history in digital-card form; once a card sells out, it can be bought from another collector on the same site’s Marketplace.
- Funko has announced its plans beginning this June to release unique NFTs weekly, starting at $9.99.
- And William (Keep on Trekkin’) Shatner maintains a presence on the WAX (World-wide Asset Exchange) NFTs site where his initial offering of 10,000 packs of digital cards featuring images from his life sold out in nine minutes!
If you’d like to learn more about NFTs, check out the sites below, and
Beeple breaks record: First NFT artwork at auction sells for staggering $69 million (CNN) – This was a first NFT sale by a major auction house.
“The Environmental Issues with Crypto Art Will be Solved Soon, Right?” (Medium) – Everything has a cost.
Funko Enters NFT Market with Majority Stake in TokenHead Developer (Funko) – Official press release.
Non-Fungible Token Definition: Understanding NFTs (Investopedia) – In-depth explanation.
William Shatner Releasing Set of Collectible Digital Trading Cards (TrekMovie.com) – The collection sold out in nine minutes!
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more!