Since the $69 million sale of Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days at Christie’s on March 11, a set of devoted collectors of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, has started to emerge. The mystery buyer of that record-setting digital artwork, the online sale of which made Beeple the third-highest-selling living artist, behind David Hockney and Jeff Koons, was soon after revealed to be Singapore-based crypto investor Vignesh Sundaresan, aka MetaKovan. Using his virtual pseudonym, the 32-year-old entrepreneur and founder of the Metapurse NFT project beat out Chinese tech billionaire Justin Sun, who took to Twitter to announce he’d lost the bid for Everydays by a razor-thin margin.
But the setback didn’t stop Sun from getting his art fix. Wasting no time, the 30-year-old founder of cryptocurrency platform TRON launched an NFT investment fund focused on acquisitions of blue-chip art and, through the fund, snatched up NFTs of art historical classics—Picasso’s Femme nue couchée au collier (Marie-Thérèse), 1932, and Warhol’s Three Self-Portraits (1986)—at a Christie’s London modern and contemporary evening sale on March 23. Following that, Sun scooped up another set of NFTs, a collection of digital works by the artist Pak, “The Fungible Collection.”
In February, just before the Beeple sale sent shock waves across the world, another of the artist’s works sold on the digital art market platform Nifty Gateway for $6.6 million. The seller of that piece, 32-year-old Miami-based art collector and blockchain aficionado Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, had purchased the 10-second video clip (minted as an NFT) in October 2020 for $67,000.
NFT mania extends well beyond the art world. Last October, the NBA launched Top Shot, an online crypto-collectibles platform that allows investors to buy, sell, and collect game highlights as video clip packets, much as they once did trading cards. And now, sports industry figures are getting into art collecting: Shalom Meckenzie, a major shareholder in sports-betting enterprise DraftKings, spent $11.4 million on a digital “CryptoPunks” character at Sotheby’s this past May.