NFT Mania is Here: 10 Fascinating (and Wacky) NFT Examples
Non-fungible tokens have exploded into the collective consciousness of the digitally inclined over the past few months – stirring excitement, anticipation and in many cases indignation and controversy. While many have good reasons to claim that NFTs demonstrate a legitimate use-case, some examples of recent NFTs have left many scratching their heads.
Wherever you stand, you can’t deny that there’s been a lot of entertainment as NFT trading volume has grown 400% since 2019. True to the inherent memery of digital culture – a host of creative, fascinating, and in some cases downright bizarre NFTs have popped into existence.
In this article we’re going to take a look at a few of them, followed by some thoughts on the real value of NFTs.
1) Jack Dorsey Sells the First-Ever Tweet for $2,915,835.47
On March 21st, 2006, Jack Dorsey wrote the first-ever Tweet – the rather anticlimactic “just setting up my twttr”. A couple of weeks ago on March 5th, Dorsey put the Tweet up for auction as an NFT.
The bidding concluded on March 21st, the 15th anniversary of the original Tweet. The bidding had escalated to a whopping $2.9 million, won by Sina Estavi who had held the winning bid since 6th March at $2.5 million.
According to Reuters, Mr. Estavi—CEO of blockchain company Bridge Oracle—paid 1630.5825601 ETH for the NFT. The proceeds will be converted into BTC and donated to GiveDirectly—a charity that gives money directly to people in poverty.
2) Digital “Mars House” Sells for $500,000
NFTs entered real estate last week—well, kind of—when Toronto-based contemporary artist Krista Kim sold the first ever NFT digital home for 288 ETH.
Kim intended Mars House to embody her ideas of meditative design, whilst promoting mental wellbeing.
The interesting thing about this is that it is not just an image – it is a whole experience. Kim collaborated not only with Jeff Schroeder from Smashing Pumpkins who created the ambient soundtrack, but also with a specialist architect to render the house using Unreal Engine.
Unreal Engine is commonly used to create Virtual Reality games, and Mars House can indeed be experienced in VR. Virtual and augmented reality will likely explode over the next decade, and NFTs could open up the door to a native ecosystem of both exchange and ownership within the shared virtual worlds that could emerge.
3) Gucci Sells “Digital Shoes” for $12 a Pop
Whilst not strictly an NFT, this is worth mentioning because they certainly could be NFTs.
Gucci partnered up with European fashion-tech company Wanna to sell digital-only sneakers that can be “worn” by the user with an Augmented Reality app.
The digital sneakers will be a mere $9-12. Bargain! Or is it? I’ll leave that to you to decide. The key point here is that digital fashion products are going to be big. According to Wanna’s CEO Sergey Arkhangelskiy:
“In five or maybe 10 years, a relatively big chunk of fashion brands’ revenue will come from digital products…”
NFTs could play a huge role in this, giving the kind of exclusivity and uniqueness to certain digital items that wouldn’t be possible with generic digital products that are, afterall, just lines of code that you can’t actually wear.
4) Recorded Farts (yes, it’s true)
Whilst a recording of a group of friends farting may initially seem less appealing than a meditative Martian mansion or a fresh new pair of Guccis (even if they’re digital)—this bizarre NFT shows that there’s really a market for anything.
Everyone responded to early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic differently. For example, Brooklyn film-director Alex Ramirez-Mallis began working on “One Calendar Year of Recorded Farts” in March 2020 as he and a group of four friends began sharing recordings of their farts in a WhatsApp group.
Ramirez-Mallis minted an NFT from the ‘masterpiece’ which eventually sold for $420 dollar’s worth of ETH. He is also selling individual farts for 0.05 ETH, around $80.
Behind all the silly grossness is a sharp critique of the NFT phenomenon. According to the “artist”:
“These NFTs aren’t even farts…….. I’m hoping these NFT farts can at once critique [the absurdity], make people laugh and make me rich”
5) Digital Artwork Sells for an Insane $69,000,000
We’ve all heard about Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days selling two weeks ago for an eye watering sum of nearly $70 million.
What’s interesting is the fact that the sale was through Christie’s, one of the worlds most prestigious auction houses—which added a new air of legitimacy to the concept. Beeple himself commented that he views NFTs as “The next chapter of art history”, adding that “now there is a way to collect digital art”.
Although the artist has called the NFT boom an “irrational exuberance bubble” – he has certainly helped to bring the idea into mainstream consciousness.
Back in 2017, TechCrunch incredulously reported that “people have spent over $1m buying virtual cats”. CryptoKitties was one of the first popular decentralized, Ethereum based games where players bought, bred and traded their own, well, crypto kitties.
CryptoKitties got so big during 2017 that it clogged the whole Ethereum network, with multiple kitties being sold for more than $20,000 and the “genesis” kitten going for more than $110,000.
Although things cooled off rapidly, with activity dropping off a cliff in the three years following the 2017 mania. However, the Block Research reports that in the early months of 2021—CryptoKitties are seeing a resurgence in popularity.
7) Burned Bansky NFT goes for $380,000
Earlier this month, a group of crypto-savvy art enthusiasts bought an original Bansky piece for roughly $100,000. They then took it to a Brooklyn park and physically burned the artwork.
Why? To make an NFT from it of course! One member of the group explained that they had to burn the physical piece, because if it still exists then the value remains there, rather than in the NFT.
This combined with the subject matter of the piece, which is titled “Morons” and pokes fun at the inflated art market with “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit” on a canvas in front of an auction house—speaks to a rich irony and a double dig at the NFT paradigm if read a certain way.
Regardless, the NFT was sold for 228.69 ETH, or $380,000 a few days later. An amazing profit from a clever stunt.
8) What We’ve All Been Waiting for – NFT Toilet Paper
Bringing the world what we never knew we needed, Charmin has jumped on the NFT train and released NFTP: “the world’s first non-fungible toilet paper”. Charmin says that it will come with a “physical display” in case you want to “hang your NFTP in your bathroom alongside your IRL rolls”. Who could say no?
If nothing else, this is a savvy bit of branding and PR, and the silver lining in this madness is that all proceeds will go to Direct Relief.
9) Kings of Leon will Be the First Band to Release an Album as an NFT
Kings of Leon’s new album “When you see yourself” will be on sale as a $50 NFT for two weeks following release. With the NFT you’ll be able to download the album, access exclusive artwork, and get access to limited edition vinyl.
So far this seems like a typical merch bundle. NFTs in the music business have a lot of potential though. NFTs could replace gig tickets and protect fans from scalping, and give artists a direct monetization opportunity that cuts out the streaming platforms and other middlemen.
However it goes, one of the worlds biggest rock bands causing buzz over the idea is something to take note of.
10) Quartz Wrote an Article about NFTs – and is Selling it as an NFT
Quartz recently wrote a great explainer article on NFTs, and then converted it into an NFT and put it up for auction. The media brand is the first to sell a news article as an NFT, with bidding reaching $1800 worth of ETH when all was said and done.
What’s the Real Value in an NFT?
You might be scratching your head after reading all this. Is it madness, a modern day tulip bubble? Without a doubt, some of it certainly is. Beeple himself was quoted the other day calling NFTs “extremely speculative” and predicting that “a lot of this stuff will absolutely go to zero”.
There’s also the issue of what an NFT actually is. When you buy an NFT of an artwork – you may not even own the physical artwork at all. In some cases, you have no rights to any royalties, no copyright over the piece of art, and no real ownership to any extent. The “real-world” piece of art can be altered, shared, used in any way and you have zero say in that. All you actually “own” is the NFT itself.
The buyer of Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days”, blockchain entrepreneur Vignesh Sundaresan, did not buy the artwork. He paid $69 million dollars for a few lines of code that included a reference to the artwork. The piece itself cannot even live on the Ethereum blockchain, as it’s too big. So is it all hot air?
This line of reasoning misses the point though. NFTs have a value right now primarily as a speculative asset. The secondary value comes from their role as a “status symbol” in the crypto world. They are a way for big fish in the community to signal wealth and taste, and for everyday enthusiasts to have a little fun with a new technology, and also invest in fractionalized ownership of valuable pieces of art. Both also have the chance of being pioneers in a new paradigm of digital ownership if NFTs really mature over the next decade.
The Future of NFTs
The above examples articulate some interesting experiments spanning the intersection of art, finance, and technology. With an NFT maker, it’s possible to create many different types of NFTs—some of which we likely have yet to conceptualize. From Alex Ramirez-Mallis and the Bansky burners’ not-so-subtle digs at the whole thing and brands like Charmin and Gucci cashing in on the buzz, to interesting experiments like Mars House and Quartz’s NFT article.
All of these underscore the fact that NFTs are a new paradigm, far from maturation, and we shouldn’t take this early wildness as definitive. Mars House shows how NFTs could intersect with other emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality – and experiments like the Kings of Leon’s new album point to NFTs’ potential role in financially disrupting stale industries. This could just scratch the surface.
All signs point toward keeping an open mind, watching the space closely, and keeping a sharp eye out for how NFTs could be adapted to technologies and cultural shifts that will emerge in the coming decade. The NFT mania that we see right now is likely to be temporary. But don’t look past the real use-case that NFTs provide to artists—which could become increasingly prevalent in the not-so-distant future.
What do you think about the NFT craze and the potential of the technology? We’d love to hear – please drop your thoughts in the comments!