A crypto art rendition of the Nyan Cat meme sold for about ₹4 Crores on February 19th.
Crypto art represents a $100 million market and allows digital artists to monetize memes.
Investors have gambled on digital keepsakes like the Nyan Cat in the past.
Nyan Cat's creator sold a rare GIF version of the meme on the cryptocurrency art platform Foundation, a website for buying and selling digital goods. The anonymous buyer bought it for 300 Ethereum, which was valued at around $590,000 (more than ₹4 Crores) at the time of purchase. The creator sold his art to mark 10 years of the meme. For Chris Torres, the creator of Nyan Cat, the NFT sale represented his first foray into crypto art.
A fast-growing market for digital art, ephemera, and media is marrying the world’s taste for collectibles with cutting-edge technology. Over the past few weeks, online sales of non-fungible tokens, more commonly known as NFTs, have taken off, as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin boomed. NFT art products - which operate as a type of digital asset or token - have in some instances sold for over $3.5 million apiece, contributing to a crypto art market that is currently valued at over $100 million. The majority of crypto art platforms use Ethereum as means of payment. ETH is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value after Bitcoin.
Torres remastered the original animated GIF for its 10-year anniversary and ran a 24-hour auction on the crypto art platform Foundation on February 18th, Thursday. The platform itself had only just launched two weeks prior and allows artists like Torres to continue to profit off their work if a buyer resells the piece later on for further profit.
Bids for the Nyan Cat started at 3 Ether (ETH) or about $1,544.38 and closed at 300 ETH - about $590,000 at the time of the sale.
"I'm very surprised with the success, but I think I'm most glad knowing that I've basically opened the door to a whole new meme economy in the crypto world," Torres told NASDAQ.
The buyer was anonymous, appearing only as "oxy7eb2...3f6b" on Foundation's site. The account will likely be the sole owner of the digital meme, as Torres told The Verge he has no plans to sell additional copies of the image in the future.
Despite the sale, the existing Nyan Cat GIF and video will still be available for distribution online. The crypto art sale simply allows the buyer to operate as a collector of sorts - as the owner of a digital piece of art based on a popular meme.
The Nyan Cat meme originated on YouTube and quickly became an internet sensation. The video depicts an animated cartoon cat that has a Pop-Tart for a torso. The video follows the cat as it flies through space, leaving a rainbow trail. The sequence is set to Japanese pop music and currently has over 185 million views on YouTube.
Nyan Cat is not the first crypto art to sell for a large sum of money. On Sunday, February 20th, a group of 34 digital collectible pieces of art, called CryptoPunks, sold for over $1 million in ETH, according to CoinDesk. In December, the digital artist Beeple sold an NFT art collection for over $3.5 million.
People have long attached emotional and aesthetic value to physical goods, like fine art or baseball cards, and have been willing to pay a lot of money for them. But digital media has not had the same value because it can be easily copied, shared, and stolen.
Blockchain technology, which is most often associated with Bitcoin, is changing that. NFTs rely on the technology to designate an official copy of a piece of digital media, allowing artists, musicians, influencers, and sports franchises to make money selling digital goods that would otherwise be cheap or free.