This is how I sold a video for US $ 6 million that can be watched for free
A blond giant lies on the grass surrounded by garbage. You can’t see his face, but it appears to be Donald Trump.
People walk by his side ignoring him.
There are words painted on his body: “loser”, “drink disinfectant”, “poor boy”.
A blue bird (Is it the one from Twitter?) Perches on his shoulder. The bird opens its beak and the clown emoticon appears.
The bird flies out of the scene.
The video lasts less than what it takes to read the previous lines: 10 seconds. Anyone can see it for free at this link.
But the American investor Pablo Rodríguez-Fraile bought it a few months ago for US $ 60,000 and just sold it for US $ 6.6 million.
In fact, what he has marketed is the certificate of authenticity of the video, a piece of digital art by the esteemed artist Beeple.
A day after talking with the investor, another piece of Beeple is sold for a record amount. But this time it was auctioned at the famous Christie’s auction house for $ 69 million.
Welcome to the world of digital art, where art and business enthusiasts pay millions for so-called NFTs (non-fungible tokens), unique property identifiers for non-physical objects.
Skeptics point out that this market is inflated and could explode at any moment.
In conversation with BBC Mundo, Rodríguez-Fraile talks about this business, how it works and what future it may have.
Digital art markets
Beeple’s real name is Mike Winkelmann.
Before it made headlines after the multi-million dollar auction at Christie’s, some investors had already had their eye on it.
Among them, Pablo Rodríguez-Fraile, a graduate in Economics from Columbia University in New York and an investor dedicated to blockchain, the technology that has allowed this boom in digital art.
“There are several digital markets where artists exhibit their works and you can buy them. The blockchain allows you to register that the work is really the artist’s original,” Rodríguez-Fraile tells BBC Mundo.
The investor reveals that it was in one of those markets that he met Beeple.
“I realized that he was exceptional. The absolute leader in his sector, the best at what he does,” he says.
Nifty Gateways is one of those markets where digital artists hang their works with authentic certification.
“Beeple published his catalog there. It was an auction where everyone could participate. I ended up taking that 10-second clip for $ 66,000.”
That happened in October 2020.
During the following weeks the young entrepreneur receives several offers for the work, but does not sell it to the first bidder. Wait.
“Now my priority is not making money. That’s why I sold it to the person who seemed to me the most weight. Someone with a real interest who could bring more visibility to this world of digital art.”
He sold it for $ 6.6 million.
Do people really pay that much just for the certificate of authenticity?
Yes, and since 2020 more and more.
What is a token and why do people buy them?
Token is the name given to the valuable asset, in this case the certificate.
A fungible asset is something that can be exchanged, such as money. If you exchange a 10 peso bill for two of five, it will still have the same value.
But this exchange is impossible with a non-expendable asset. That is, a token, which has unique properties that cannot be exchanged for something else.
Rodríguez-Fraile illustrates this with an analogy about the Mona Lisa:
“If you take a photo of the original painting, with the best possible camera, and then use the best painter to reproduce it exactly, it is very likely that it will be perfect, but it will never be Leonardo da Vinci’s.”
The blockchain has allowed a digital work to be authenticated and that certificate is protected, irrefutable proof that it came from the original artist.
And that unique information is what is contained within the token.
“Many people just want to make money with this, but many others pay those prices because, as in traditional art, they feel emotional connections with a piece,” explains the investor.
There is no doubt that the Christie’s auction, the first piece of digital art ever offered at that house, has mediated the world of NFTs.
However, several digital markets have been reporting for several months on the growth of this trend.
And it is that non-fungible tokens are not only limited to the world of art.
In theory, anyone can tokenize their work and sell it as an NFT.
On February 19, a 2011 animated meme about a cat sold for more than half a million dollars.
And the founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, promotes the sale of the NFT of his first tweet, with offers that reach US $ 2.5 million.
However, this boom is not without criticism and concerns.
As cryptocurrency transactions are executed, reluctance arises about the environmental impact of maintaining blockchain technology.
And others denounce that a bubble is being built around the NFTs that could burst at any moment.
Will the fashion for NFTs pass?
Days before the record at Christie’s, the BBC interviewed Beeple.
“I sincerely believe that there will be a bubble. We can be inside right now,” he acknowledged.
Other voices are even more skeptical.
David Gerard, the author of several books on technology, admits that it is true that “there are some artists making money with these things” but that someone ordinary probably “does not make it”.
He even claimed that people in the NFT business are “scammers.”
“The same guys who have always dedicated themselves to it try to create something magical with no value that they can sell for money,” he denounced.
Charles Allsopp, a former auctioneer at Christie’s, also sees no point in buying NFT.
“The idea of buying something that is not there is just weird,” he told the BBC.
Artists of the present … and of the future
Rodríguez-Fraile argues that in reality there is not that much difference between a physical asset and a digital one. They have similar dynamics. Hobbyists who buy the unique value of the piece.
“Whoever bought the video for me for six million is not a madman. In the future it will be better understood. I think that all the art of the future will be tokenized,” says the businessman.
“I think this technology will even allow the artists of our generation to be more relevant than those who have been left out of this world,” he predicts.
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BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-56411902, IMPORTING DATE: 2021-03-17 11:40:05