Over $ 93 million in NFT sales and Art + Tech Summit 2021

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Christie’s upscale building in Rockefeller Center in New York City, midtown Manhattan. Organizers exhibited a 3D frame that allows a hologram of oneself to be remotely projected elsewhere and discussed how animated interactive trading cards will change over time based on the real-world performance of the athletes on display. Mike Novogratz, CEO of Galaxy Digital, Canadian artist Mad Dog Jones, head of global marketing at TikTok Nick Tran, co-founder of CryptoPunks Matt Hall, co-founder of Tezos Kathleen Breitman and president of TIME Keith Grossman – all makers of art and tech space gathered (some of them virtually) at Christie’s fourth annual Art + Tech Summit to discuss the future of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The interest in non-fungible tokens is not that new at Christie’s. In fact, the auction house’s first Art + Tech Summit, held in London in 2018, was dedicated to blockchain technology, and organizers gave away 300 NFTs created by Robbie Barrat. Surprisingly, only 12 people claimed their free NFTs. Any remaining tokens are likely to be lost forever, so the SuperRare team is calling them “Lost Robbies”. While no NFTs were given away at the summit this time, audiences seemed much better prepared in 2021 – probably because Christie’s bold moves in the NFT space were hard to miss that year. The auction house reportedly made a total of around $ 93.2 million in NFT sales, including $ 69 million with the Beeple sale in March, $ 17 million with CryptoPunks, and $ 3.3 million with Andy Warhol in May and $ 2.16 million with FEWOCiOUS in June. In addition, Christie’s curated, online-only “Trespassing” auction raised $ 2.5 million in July after releasing its financial results. According to the numbers in the report, NFT sales represented nearly 42% of all online sales at Christie’s.

Related: The hype is over: How NFTs and art will benefit from each other in the future

With Christie reporting total sales of $ 3.5 billion in the first half of 2021 and NFTs grossing $ 93.2 million so far this year at the time of the report, the NFT category remains tiny in the auction house’s total sales. However, it also arouses the interest of new buyers and expands the customer base, as Christie’s stated in a press release:

“73% of registered NFT sellers are new to Christie’s, with an average age of 38 (13 years younger than the average age for customers in other sales); Some have also crossed over to buy works from established / blue chip artists. “

The auction house also said that 31% of all new buyers are millennials. At some auctions, Christie’s also noticed a reverse interest: traditional collectors made some moves in the NFT category – in particular, half of the bids during the NFT “Andy Warhol: Machine Made” auction came from established traditional collectors.

Related: The future of art? World famous artists deal with NFTs

Aside from financial stocks, Christie’s also appears to be interested in long-term NFT innovation. The curated program of this year’s Art + Tech Summit offered a broad overview of NFTs – from art to games to metaverses – with each panel moderated by Christie’s experts. I’ve selected the best quotes and highlights from all panels at Christie’s Art + Tech Summit 2021 for a quick recap!

Related: NFTs enable gamers to have digital property rights

Definition of NFT

The panelists had different views on NFTs. Most agreed, however:

  • NFTs are much more than just JPGs (in case you have any concerns).
  • NFTs create a new communication channel.

Matt Hall, co-founder of Larva Labs, a creative studio and an early innovator in blockchain art: “CryptoPunks are a contract, they are a marketplace, they are a group of things that have attributes and rarity. Yes, there is an image attached to it. But the interesting thing about it is the whole package put together.

Jehan Chu, co-founder and managing partner of Kenetic Capital, a blockchain venture capital and cryptocurrency trading company: “NFT is not an object, but an access point. […] NFT is the starting point of the conversation.

Ronnie Pirovino, art collector and curator: “This element of communication, this element of the dynamic new relationships that artists are building with their audiences, and this dialogue that is taking place, is incredibly exciting. […] Art has become a real conversation. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before. ”

Evin McMullen, co-founder of Serto, a decentralized identity platform: “The personal experience of NFT really speaks to other people. And the NFT is just an excuse for you to gather around it. NFTs in the metaverse context are therefore closer to a campfire than to a T-shirt.

Paul Budnitz, CEO of Superplastic, a character-based product and entertainment company: “All cryptocurrencies are stories. There’s a story behind Bitcoin, there’s a story behind Dogecoin, Ethereum. It’s very similar […] With NFTs, it’s the story that adds value. A friend of mine wrote to me this morning: ‘NFT: Never Fucking Timid.’ Take a risk. This is a great place to take a chance. You have a 100% margin, go for it!

Collectors and NFTs

A lot of the hype surrounding NFTs is based on a common misconception about the value of digital assets. For the majority of people outside of the gaming and crypto industries, it’s not entirely clear – why should you buy a digital asset, especially at a higher price than the real thing? Collectors at Christie’s Art + Tech Summit provided their explanations and motivations for their business.

Micah Johnson, artist: “Buying is the new favor.

Alex Atallah, co-founder and CTO of OpenSea, an NFT marketplace: “We have seen that users actually care about the things they own. They went from renting digital real estate to becoming owners. Think about when you will stop renting an apartment and owning your home. All of a sudden you start investing in it and trying to do better. And it becomes part of your identity.

Matt Hall, co-founder of Larva Labs, a creative studio and an early innovator in blockchain art: “Many of our collectors are new to the art world. This is the first time they have bought it. […] I think it has to do with their world. For many people today, the digital world is the real world. I had a lot of questions like, “I can’t hang it on my wall, what’s the point?” These people don’t care about the walls. It is not important to them. What happens online is important to them.

Scott Lawin, CEO and COO of Candy Digital, a creative development studio: “We’re all collectors, we’re all fans, and we’re all very curious. As you collect physical memorabilia when you collect trading cards, a lot of these things end up in shoeboxes, they sit on the shelves, and they collect dust. And so, the idea of ​​being a collector of digital assets – whether they have a connection to physical objects or not – is also about how that asset can change over time (i.e. how it reflects that player’s performance from the night before may reflect as it can and help celebrate those team victories over the course of the season). And they ultimately have to connect the player to the fan directly. So this idea of ​​NFT technology and the ability to combine real-time data directly with the fan experience. In this way, a community outside of crypto is brought into space.

Creators and NFTs

One overarching theme was raised by artists during the conference: They spoke about the liberating power of NFTs and the vast amount of support, feedback and love they receive from their communities. The artists emphasized how community support enables them to do what they really want and focus on what is important to them. Everyone was inspired and excited about the possibilities that technology offered and emphasized the importance of social media.

Mad Dog Jones, multidisciplinary artist: “NFT gave us the chance to really do the art that we want to do. Don’t just do the art we have to do.

Mike Novogratz, founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital: “NFTs are about building communities. Those who are successful get people who care.

Alissa Aulbekova, co-founder of Auroboros, a fashion house that combines science and technology: “I think that this technology enables so much for the makers at the moment that we can finally focus on the product, the design or the experience.

Alex Atallah, co-founder and CTO of Opensea, an NFT marketplace: “Creators through to NFTs were able to freelance – doing as little work as possible for as much money as possible. And the people they employ try to make them as much work as possible for as little money as possible. There’s this tension in this relationship. In the case of NFTs, the incentives are coordinated. This tension doesn’t exist. Your collectors want you to grow and do really well. And you want your items to increase in value and your collectors to do really well. That means your community becomes your career.

Ronnie Pirovino, art collector and curator: “We explore communities that weren’t focal points per se. One of the things I noticed about the NFT community is that it is so strong and so global. This element is very exciting and I think it’s extremely important and really speaks to the moment. […] The artists are important because the audience says them. And that’s revolutionary to a certain extent because it really affects people who are very personal to the work and don’t respond to it because someone tells them it’s good or important and they should respond.

Limitations of NFTs

The NFTs still have many technical limitations that are slowing adoption. There are security issues, blockchain interoperability issues, and other gaps in infrastructure development.

Evin McMullen, co-founder of Serto, a decentralized identity platform: “One of the challenges in this area is that NFTs are really small boxes. They don’t hold up much. At the moment, NFTs have no way for an artist to sign their work. In fact, many of these artists aren’t even represented at a code level from a technical point of view. The only information about her person and involvement is stored in some human readable data on a server owned by a platform that has sold her to you.

Keith Grossman, President of TIME: “It’s a very challenging experience, the UA isn’t there. […] The IP is separated from the canvas. The IP has tremendous value and the canvas has tremendous value. We see the value of the IP, but we don’t see the canvas catch up. My experience was that it didn’t work well with my mobile phone, so there isn’t a good sync app out there. The canvas still looks like a computer screen, and that’s a problem. The canvas is a really important aspect. We see it holistically in this room. Metamask isn’t a great wallet; my 75 year old Jewish grandmother cannot use Metamask in its current iteration. […] The experience of just connecting the screen to your phone and wallet is turnkey. Then it becomes the next level.

One of the central questions with NFTs is that of interoperability between blockchains. The speakers had different views: Mike Novogratz suggested that it all boils down to Ethereum, while Silivio Micali stated that trustworthy secure bridges will be developed.

Mike Novogratz, founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital: “What is going to happen intuitively is that there will be a couple of large marketplaces that things will migrate to. Liquidity usually migrates to broader marketplaces. […] I think it has to be Ethereum. Because when I’ve built something, I want it to be used elsewhere.

Silvio Micali, founder of Algorand: “When it comes to NFTs, interoperability is an incredibly important topic that many people are working on in the broader crypto blockchain universe. The existing solutions are mostly centralized, which means that you have to trust a third party to ensure that this unique asset only exists in a chain. However, no trustee can guarantee the interoperability of two completely different chains. Trustless bridges between the chains are the solution in my opinion. This is the technology that we at Algorand have developed and are currently testing. In addition to interoperability, developers should consider other critical criteria when choosing a blockchain infrastructure to launch an NFT: No-forking. Blockchains often split into two forks, creating two copies of the NFT, which creates a semantic problem as NFTs should be unique. Because of this, forking opens the doors to the real property debate. Algorand is uniquely positioned as the leading platform for NFT adoption as it has been mathematically proven to be immune to forks.

NFT predictions

Mike Novogratz, founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital: “I think you will see a power shift from businessman to creator. We never had the opportunity to monetize the community, monetize these creative things that we do today.

Nick Tran, Head of Global Marketing at TikTok: “In theory, you can imagine a world where platforms like ours with what’s happening in the NFT space have the ability to innovate in the monetization of YouTubers.

Mad Dog Jones, multidisciplinary artist: “If you think NFTs are abstract or weird, the world gets a lot crazier and a lot stranger. You will want to take the time to understand this. Because if we start to derive even further from this technology, which is already on the rise, it will get much crazier and more beautiful. And you want to be a part of it and understand that.

The Art + Tech Summit 2021 feels like a statement: Christie’s is committed to NFTs (and beyond) – and is planning a long-term presence in the room to train others, but also to learn from the community how to get through an unpredictable , tricky crypto navigates space. The physical event was intimate, with 150 attendees on-site and a total of 1,000 attendees, including those attending online. For those who missed the chance to fly to New York, Christie’s generously shared seven hours of conversations on its official website.

These quotations have been edited and condensed.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Sophia Steiner graduated from Lomonosov University in Moscow in journalism and began her career as an art critic for the film industry and urban architecture. She founded her agency Schteiner PR with a focus on luxury brands in the fields of art, French crafts, design and interiors. In 2018 she joined an international communications agency and worked with blockchain startups during the crypto bull market.