Can Little-Known NFTs Cost Millions?

At the beginning of 2022, the volume of the NFT market reached a record $17 billion. But after nine months, it dropped by 97%, according to research company Dune Analytics. While at first glance it may seem that the NFT bubble has burst, the reality is different. The fact is that NFTs have much in common with art objects that are not traded on a daily basis, and the profit from their sale exceeds that of stock, bond and precious metals trading. The first explains the drop in turnover, while the second is a telltale sign of such a big stir in January. Sounds confusing? Let’s take a closer look at some interesting art deals and then draw parallels with the NFT market to make things clearer.

The art of investing

At a Sotheby’s auction held in mid-October of 2017 in Paris, one of the copies of Marcel Duchamp’s painting, “The Mustachioed Mona Lisa,” which was made in 1964 was sold for $750,000. This is a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, which Duchamp customized by adding on a moustache and beard. One year earlier, another copy of Duchamp’s “Mustachioed Mona Lisa” went under the hammer at Christie’s — another giant auction house  — for 500,000 euros.

In 1999, “Three Sketches for a Self-Portrait,” a famous triptych created by Francis Bacon in 1976, was sold for $3 million, and in 2008 for $28 million, showing an increase of 850% in price. Over the same time period, gold and S&P (SPX) were up by 232% and 18% respectively. The current evaluation of this artwork varies from $47 to $74 million.

Art objects are becoming more expensive — an undeniable fact. Considering that two-thirds of art objects are purchased for their investment attractiveness, we can confidently say that the dream of any investor in art is to find such a work as “The Mustachioed Mona Lisa” and manage to buy it relatively cheaply. As such, investing in art is essentially no different than investing in venture capital or in cryptocurrencies.

Deals in art can bring in more money than deals with other assets. This is one of the reasons why the NFT market has gained such momentum. But it must be said that $17 billion is not such a large amount. For reference, the global sales of art and antiques in 2021 amounted to $65.1 billion according to Art Basel and UBS. It will be very interesting to observe the global turnover of art for 2022 when the corresponding report is published. It can be assumed that 20-25% of the increase will be derived from transactions with NFTs.

NFT and art

Do you dare to assert that the buyer of “The Mustachioed Mona Lisa,” a reproduction painting with a moustache and beard assigned to a woman, in 1964 was sure of the success of his investment, and did he have firm grounds for such action? Or did a successful deal become a reality due to the fact that the Mona Lisa was recognized as a cult work of art of the 20th century in the 21st century? But we will not delve into spatial reasoning on this score.

Today, it is extremely difficult to say which NFTs will cost a fortune. Take Beeple, for example, who was a famous digital artist, but almost nobody in the art industry had heard of him before his NFT work sale. The bidding started at $100 and the deal was closed at $69,000,000.

Keep in mind that not every object sold as an NFT is a work of art. Is it something creative? Definitely. Can it be called art? Not always. There is a fine line between the concepts — the presence of a profound sense, the idea and the method of implementation. Do not be misled, as it may happen that the generated pixelated images will pay off in full, but you should still pay notice to the art that probably passed you by, if you don’t read this material. Unless, of course, you are well-versed in the comings and goings of this sector. We are talking about art objects presented at the Venice Biennale in 2022.

Venice Biennale 2022

So, let’s imagine that we are looking for NFTs that can rake in millions, and we will take a look at one of the most famous art events — an international art exhibition held every two years with global talented artists participating and hundreds of works of various styles presented — the 59th Venice Biennale 2022. This one is of special interest, since NFT works were for the first time presented at it.

Participation in the Biennale is an achievement in itself, so let’s take a closer look. Here is a video rendering of “The Kiss” by Shavonne Wong, proclaiming that there are no barriers to love in the form of gender, race or nationality. Here is a fully online generative art project — “Chimera” by Mpkoz, as well as “Observation” by Rafaël Rozendaal, “Seven of Swords” by Justin Aversano and “Social Sacrifice” by Studio Drift. And behind each of these works is the idea of ​​a passionate artist; each is magnificent in its own way. But there is one uniting factor — all these NFTs already exist. Actually, they were presented as NFTs.

Maybe it is possible to find works presented at the Biennale as real, physical and modern “classical” art, which was attracted to the exhibition not because of the popular NFT format, but for the artistic value of the art object behind it. Like a young startup that can become a unicorn and has not yet received any investment from a venture capital fund. After all, this is the stage when investing is most profitable, isn’t it? Take, for example, the METAMORPHOSES project by the Concept2048 creative art duo — Ekaterina Perekopskaya and Rostyslav Brenych, young but already-known artists who brought the concept of social value into art. 

METAMORPHOSES by Concept2048

The artists develop a personal exploration of artificial light and color in relation to perception, inviting viewers to understand a hidden agenda. METAMORPHOSES is a digital fashion art collection of 2048 unique, mysterious portraits of the Envoys of the Universe, where each Envoy is a ray of light that controls one of the four natural elements — water, earth, fire or air. The project plans to release the unique NFT collection on January 24, 2023, with over 200 NFTs already sold out in minutes after the launch of pre-sale rounds. But you can still sign up for the white list on the project website right now.

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There are several points of note — all 2,048 works within the project are handcrafted. The NFTs will be released on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain and TON’s NFT marketplace called TON Diamonds. However, in my opinion, the most significant element is the history of the artists themselves, which does not originate from this collection at all, as the artists emerged onto the scene more than five years ago and are still producing quality art. They try not only to highlight global problems in their work, but also to encourage their viewers to take active steps to change the surrounding reality and maintain sustainable development on the planet.

Summing up

For a thoughtful reader, the algorithm for searching for art objects presented in the form of NFTs as potentially attractive for investment has likely become more understandable. There is a lot in common in this regard with venture investments — high returns and high risks, and in order to find a unicorn, you need to understand the subject matter and get to know the team and their past. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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