• The future of NFTs: crypto art or collector’s item?

  • While the early 2021 hype is all about crypto art – seen as a manifestation of digital art now based on distributed databases – in the meantime, the real insider market appreciates and trades NFT more than collectibles.

    August 2021 was a big month for the Non Fungible Tokens revival, and it broke every record for the much-discussed and memorable March 2021, with sales of crypto art touching $400 million and sales of collectibles touching $600 million.

    A simple reading of the data suggests that the collectibles market is far larger than the art market, and this is further confirmed by the secondary market.

    Low carbon art: million dollar sales at Christie’s and Beeple’s NFT

    Thanks to Christie’s “baptism” of Beeple’s million-dollar auction, crypto art is getting more coverage in the media – both industry and major publications – because it’s more glamorous, more easily understood as an intangible art asset, and has found some affinity with the physical world.

    Collectibles – digital collectibles – are something different, based on scarcity, rarity, gamification and often artificial intelligence algorithms that create unique and special random collectibles by combining different components that excite collectors, but are hard to understand for most people who see Larva Labs’ now famous Crypto Punks selling for millions of dollars without really understanding why.

    On the other hand, the more structured art world has counted on the presence of collectors – in some cases real investors – who are already familiar with these market themes and have partially “dipped their toes” into the NFT market anyway, albeit with appropriate caution, in the midst of accumulating, rising, and sometimes speculative moves – art hype.

    In the new book, “The Art of Crypto. Everything You Need to Know About NFTs, Blockchain, and Digital Art ” describes what is happening in the art world and its markets, highlighting how much more there is to do, the constant evolution and the ensuing opportunities in the industry, and how the real rules are yet to be defined in the balance between the old and the new.

    Collectible items and market access possibilities

    For collectibles there is no such thing as old, only new. A marketplace that winks at game cards can be collected and owned, and in most cases, each of us has the opportunity to collect the first edition on equal terms before discovering that what was purchased is in the form of a unique and valuable specimen.

    Once items are announced within the cryptocurrency community or on social networks such as Discord and Twitter, there is the opportunity to purchase collectibles from the source and then mint NFTs at prices ranging from 0.03 ETH to over 2 ETH on average, depending on the method and timing of each collectible, often those who purchase do not yet know what features their NFTs will have.

    A very fast and volatile market that goes through different phases in a matter of days or even hours where some people are even just selling pre-orders. This was the case with Punks Comics’ MintPass for MetaHero, sold to the owner of another NFT from the producer for 0.08 ETH, and then given the rights to one of the 10,000 NFTs about to be put on the market on OpenSea’s secondary market first for 2 ETH and today for 5 ETH, and announced a “floor price” that promises to be stellar.

    Christie’s was the first auction house to perceive the power and scope of the collectibles market, first selling Crypto Punk, created by Larva Labs, for over $11 million each, and today $250,000 is not enough to get one of the 10,000 most common minted coins, as investment funds and credit card merchants like VISA rush to stockpile them.

    Crypto Punk, a must-have of our time

    Artwork or not, auctions outside of cryptocurrency continue, with Christie’s Hong Kong announcing a second collector’s sale on September 17, this time featuring the infamous cryptocurrency punk, paired with Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), the most expensive boredom monkey on the web – so far, 25 ETH for the most common monkey too little – will be the next must-have at the end of this incredible year.

    As a layman, it’s hard to understand the dynamic – or the fascination – however, the numbers speak for themselves, and most importantly the growing number of collectors today who buy, sell, and swap collectibles, some out of natural passion and others out of pure speculation.

    Increasingly, cryptocurrency art is also turning its attention to collectibles, drawing from the dynamics of rarity, scarcity, and sales, such as Art Blocks, whose generated art has far outpaced other more well-known platforms like SuperRare and Nifty Gateway in the past two months, with over $300 million in sales in August alone; or Damien Hirst, whose 10,000 NFTs of The Currency sold for $2,000 and are now the rarest on the secondary market at over $50,000.

    Whether it’s collectibles or crypto art, it’s safe to assume that both markets draw inspiration from the other, in some cases as a mutual media force, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing even if the risk of potential future cannibalization becomes concrete day after day.

    What's your reaction?