NFTs are eating the world. The Non-Fungible Tokens category jumped from a $2.5 billion market during the first half of 2021 to over $40 billion by year’s end, according to Bloomberg. People still are strapping on bungie cords and jumping in, making the NFT space one of the fastest growing communities on the planet.
Whether barter or bullion, economies are formed by communities of like-minded people — and the wealth and creativity embedded in NFTs has started conversations that have logged thousands of hours on Clubhouse, Twitter, Substack, podcasts and other infodumps.
The whole thing started (sort of) in June 2017 when CryptoPunks began a mass experiment to gauge people’s interest in NFT ownership. CryptoPunks released 10,000 of the first non-fungible tokens on Ethereum. This began as an experiment so CryptoPunks and their partners Larva Labs started out using the freemium model, which meant that anyone could claim the first 10,000 24x24 pixel art NFTs for free, as long as they had an Ethereum wallet and paid the gas fees. Each NFT was algorithmically generated, meaning so that no two characters would be alike. Some NFTs had traits that were rarer (and ultimately more valuable) than others. Proof of ownership was tied to the Ethereum blockchain, which arguably is the inspiration for the new ERC-721 standard that powers most digital art, collectibles, virtual worlds, and blockchain game items today.
Most importantly, the way it works is that there will never be more than the original 10,000 CryptoPunks.
This was all hypothetical fun until February, 2021 when hundreds of people paid pop star Grimes a total of nearly $6 million for a series of artworks that included a video with original music titled “Death Of The Old”. True, digital artist Beeple sold $3.5 million worth of art through Nifty Gateway in 2020, but let’s face it, we were distracted in 2020.
More recently, the NFT “CryptoPunk #7523” sold for $11.8m at Sotheby’s in early 2021.