Greg Oakford, a co-founder of NFT Fest Australia, guides you through the Web3 digital art world from a collector’s perspective.
Turning concert merchandise and memories digital
Snoop Dogg’s recent announcement of the Snoop Passport — an evolving concert tour collectible — is a trend I believe we’ll see get more and more traction among musicians and entertainers.
They tap into those fan moments we’ve all had: whether it’s dusting off an old concert T-shirt, rustling through a shoe box full of ticket stubs from sporting events and concerts you’ve attended or putting your favorite musician/band poster on your bedroom walls as a kid.
All these examples create feelings of nostalgia; they take you back to a moment in time and act like the timestamps of your life. But they are fragile at best over time, and at least half of my cherished ticket stubs are dog-eared with fading ink.
Snoop Dogg Passport Series. (Twitter)
So storing nostalgia on the blockchain in durable digital goods is just the base case for why we’re likely to see more artists after Snoop follow suit. But there are plenty of other reasons for artists and fans to get on board
What’s in it for the musician?
— Ability to token gate exclusive and dynamic content to fans.
— Open up a new line of digital merch (alongside physical merch).
— Deeper engagement between artists and fans with new experiences and access.
— Collaboration with Web3 and digital artists (hip hop is well known for its collaborations over many decades, so this natural extension into a Web3 context makes sense).
— Reward fan loyalty and the ability to add additional utility to the holder.
— New revenue stream from minting. Snoop opted for $42 (approx) or 0.025 ETH, which re you can pay via credit card or via crypto.
— Royalties on secondary sales.
What’s in it for the fan?
— Creates nostalgia through collectibles on the blockchain.
— Dynamic content and exclusive behind-the-scenes access.
— Exposure to artists and collaborations (i.e., Terrell Jones and Coldie).
— Access to drops, events and experiences.
— The new era of displaying fandom (many collect vinyl when they don’t even have a record player)
— Integration with social media, a continuation of social signaling in our digital lives.
— Ability to trade it on secondary NFT markets.
What’s hot in NFT art markets
It’s hard to go past “The Goose” from artist Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers generative art collection. This iconic piece sold as part of Sotheby’s recent Grails II event (an auction of NFT art seized from bankrupt crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital) for a whopping $6,215,1000 to Punk6529. Going into the auction, the sale price was estimated between $2 million to $3 million.
“The Goose” from Ringers Collection by Dmitri Cherniak. (Sotheby’s)
Originally minted in February 2021 for 0.1 ETH (the equivalent to $131 on the date of sale), The Goose’s price appreciation continues to ascend into the stratosphere.
The history of the piece includes a sale from TheCryptonite to Pixelpete for 1.26 WETH ($2,220) on 4 February 2021; a transfer from Pixelpete to 3AC for 1,800 ETH ($5,896,566) on 27 August 2021; and a new owner in Punk6529 via Sotheby’s auction after 3AC’s demise for 3,237 ETH ($5.4 million), plus a buyers premium in excess of $800,000.
Other notable Sotheby’s Grails II sales
Chromie Squiggle #1780 by Snowfro – sold for $635,000. (OpenSea)
Fidenza #216 by Tyler Hobbs – sold for $609,600. (Sotheby’s)
Autoglyph #218 by Larva Labs – sold for $330,200. (OpenSea)
Sotheby’s moves from museum pieces to the metaverse
Following the successful Grails II auction with 37 lots going under the hammer, Cointelegraph sat down with Michael Bouhanna, a Sotheby’s vice president and head of digital and NFTs, to discuss the pivotal auction and why the brand continues to lean in heavily to art on the blockchain.
“Grails II exceeded our expectations in every respect. The total of $11 million from the 37 lots is more than double the high estimate, which was $4.8 million. Every single lot sold in excess of the high estimate, and that data is very impressive,” says Bouhanna.
“There was tremendous excitement in the lead-up to the auction. We ended up having over 1,000 bids across the entire sale and had artists like Beeple and other members of the community take to Twitter to voice their excitement about the sale of The Goose. It was a very important movement, and I think that speaks to not only the importance of the work of The Goose but also to the collection and its significance to the market.”
Sotheby’s Auction Room during Grails II. (Sotheby’s)
Sotheby’s dates back to 1744 but only started its foray into NFTs in early 2021. Bouhanna believes the move is helping to usher in a new generation of collectors.
“Since early 2021, we’ve been committed to digital art and NFTs as an important part of our overall fine art strategy. We really see digital art and NFTs as a natural outgrowth for us,” he said.He points out that 61% of the buyers in the Grails II auction were new to Sotheby’s, and most were under 40, well below the average age of its usual clientele.“With so many new collectors coming through our digital art sales, I think that is definitely opening up the world to many people who would have otherwise felt intimidated by participating in a sale at Sotheby’s.”
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Sotheby’s is getting good at drawing attention to the NFT and crypto space via high-tension live streams. In November 2021, it was host to the sale of a first edition of the U.S. Constitution, with Constitution DAO drawing international headlines with its narrowly thwarted attempt to secure the highly sought-after artifact.
“When Constitution DAO attempted to purchase the first printing, that really demonstrated how excited the community was about live auctions. Even today, it remains one of the most viewed live streams of all time. It also shows how the crypto community, the NFT and digital art community is excited about how auctions are run and how very new they are to many people in this community,” says Bouhanna.
Prestige at a price
Sotheby’s applies the same traditional buyer’s premium revenue model to their digital art auctions as their physical art auctions. But Bouhanna points out the Sotheby’s brand helps artists attract premium prices too.“We play the same role in the market in bringing carefully created selections of our art to sale,” he explains. “On Twitter, there was a poll following the auction asking the question if The Goose would have achieved the same price if sold elsewhere. A significant percentage of respondents agreed that it would never have achieved as much as that amount had it been auctioned off on OpenSea or another on-chain NFT marketplace.”
Sotheby’s and the 99-year-old art pioneer
Vera Molnár’s example work from Themes and Variations. (Sotheby’s Metaverse)
On 28 June, Sotheby’s announced its new generative art program, which will be fuelled by the ArtBlocks engine.
The program will be headlined and launched with generative and computer art pioneer Vera Molnár.
The 99-year-old Hungarian artist’s groundbreaking on-chain generative art project, titled “Themes and Variations,” will feature 500 unique artworks.
They will be sold in a Dutch auction, for the first time in Sotheby’s history.
Tweet of the week
What Coldie listens to when creating art
Coldie dropped NFT Collector a link to his “Inspired whispers only you can hear” Spotify playlist:
The most engaging reads in blockchain. Delivered once a
Greg Oakford is the co-founder of NFT Fest Australia. A former marketing and communications specialist in the sports world, Greg now focuses his time on running events, creating content and consulting in web3. He is an avid NFT collector and hosts a weekly podcast covering all things NFTs.
Follow the author @GregOakford