An NFT, also known as a non-fungible token, is a unit of data stored on a digital blockchain, a large network of computers that records transactions and verifies the uniqueness of a certain piece or asset. This gives buyers proof of authenticity and ownership over their NFT. NFTs are seen in the forms of photos, videos, GIFs, audios, and many other digital files.
With the recent boom in the cryptocurrency market and currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum ranging close to all time highs, investors turned to a new digital asset – the NFT. People started to realize they can own the one and only digital art piece of their favorite artists’ work.
For this reason, an increase in demand for verified limited digital assets shot up the prices. Over the course of 2020 the NFT market grew by a staggering 229 percent. On March 11th, 2021, Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple sold his NFT piece called “Everydays – The First 5,000 Days” on Christie’s for $69.3 million. This makes it the third highest price achieved by a living artist.
Beeple’s “Everydays” piece was a collage of 5,000 futuristic images that Beeple made each day from May 1, 2007 to Jan. 7, 2021. The buyer of this piece was Vignesh Sundaresan, also known as MetaKovan. MetaKovan stated that he had no regrets paying $69.3 million for what many say is simply a JPEG, and said he regarded the NFT as a “significant piece of art history.”
Other famous artists responded to the hype around NFTs and started to release their own collections. Celebrities like Tony Hawk, Shawn Mendez, Mark Cuban, Grimes, Don Diablo, Snoop Dogg have all minted and sold their own Non-fungible tokens.
Currently there are many markets for NFTs and a very small barrier to entry. People can create digital art, upload it to their preferred market and mint their NFT collection, usually costing only a small fee. The artist then can choose the amount of pieces available and upload it for auction where it sells for the highest bid in cryptocurrency.
Can this be the new copyright system of our generation, perhaps taking ownership of digital items to a whole other level? Or is it all just overvalued speculative assets in another financial bubble waiting to burst? Only time will tell.