A couple of years ago back in 2019, Jeremy [Jeremy Epstein, Co-Chief Investment Officer of Crypto Futura Fund) kept badgering me, telling me that the next big thing in the art world was going to be these 'digital only' artworks that would be traded like baseball cards on a blockchain called “Non-Fungible Tokens”.
I personally thought the idea of “fine art” being only a digital baseball card thingy was ludicrous. I did then (and frankly still do) feel that so much of the appreciation and impact of fine visual art has to do with the physical presence of art, the physical craftsmanship, the physical and tactile impression that a painting or a sculpture makes on a person when they encounter the work in person. But with all of that said, knowing Jeremy as long as I have (since we were 17 years old and starting college together), and having taken 2 art history classes together at Johns Hopkins with a professor who changed both of our lives…I know how much visual art means to Jeremy, and I know not to doubt his foresight when it comes to predicting the technological future.
I decided to dabble in these NFT artworks in the fall of that year. I opened up a new crypto wallet on an app called “Trust Wallet,” and I transferred 1 ETH from my wallet at Coinbase. I then did a little research by simply typing into Google “most popular NFT artists.” Some artist named John Orion Young aka “JOY” came up as the first hit. I decided to just experiment and see if I could successfully buy this “piece of art” using ETH. It was surprisingly easy! I paid .30 ETH and at the time ETH was trading at about $180 USD. I basically paid about $54 for this NFT artwork called “Life is Eternally Eating the Perpetually Melting Ice Cream”. I personally did (and still do) think the work is garbage from a pure quality of the art standpoint.
But apparently my opinion doesn’t really matter to the people who collect these NFTs on “JoyWorld,” an entire marketplace for collectors of artwork by John Orion Young. Two years later, this past weekend a fellow JOY collector just offered me 5 ETH for my piece of art! At today’s ETH price, that is approximately $9,000, a 166x increase!
Many of you may have also read about the $69M sale at Christie’s last week for a complete collection of digital NFTs by the artist “Beeple.” Needless to say, this whole NFT art thing is for real. We can either be curmudgeons and just scoff and ignore it, or we can challenge ourselves to be forever young and try to look at even “fine art” with the fresh eyes of youth. The reality is that the concept of the non-fungible token is brilliant and is a win-win for the artists, the collectors, and institutions. Never again will there be any concern over fakes and stolen art. Never again will artists miss out on the financial gains as their artwork appreciates in the secondary market.
I believe NFT art is here to stay; I just think that it will take some time for the really good artists to start to make new work in digital NFT format so that the quality of the art can vastly improve.
I’ve attached below my John Orion Young NFT artwork for you to judge its artistic merits. But one thing is for sure: its investment merits cannot be questioned!