The market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is exploding. This applies in particular to the sale of unique, non-reproducible virtual works of art, whereby the buyer of the associated NFT is assured ownership.
It became clear this morning during a keynote on fintech and metaverse during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.
Charles Stewart, CEO of the auction house Sotheby’s, founded in 1744, expects NFTs to change the art world profoundly. Never before in its long history has Sotheby’s experienced such a boom in interest in art. Even young people collect nft artwork like it’s the most normal thing in the world. They display their virtual possessions on their mobile phone screens. Art is one of the most pronounced use cases of blockchain. According to Stewart, it is no longer just about buying NFTs, but also about what we do with them. Buyers want more than just showing their friends virtual artwork on their mobile devices.
“Who will be Leonardo da Vinci in the nft world?”
The CEO, who previously worked at the cable company Altice, expects major advances in display technology. One trend is to integrate NFTs into audio. The metaverse offers possibilities. New display technology makes it possible to display virtual works of art in your private space in the metaverse. The special thing is that this art is portable. You can display artwork in different places at the same time. Collectors also unite in groups. It’s interesting what will happen in these communities, says Stewart.
During the keynote, Stewart was asked who will be the Leonardo da Vinci of the NFT world. The managing director was unable to answer that. ‘It is still very early. We are only at the beginning of a development. But a conceptual artist like Pak is currently attracting a lot of attention.’
Until recently, the fancy Sotheby’s served the elite, and the auctions were attended by three to five hundred interested parties. Tonight, a million visitors will follow an auction live. And the main auctions attract up to five million live visitors. According to Stewart, the pandemic has pushed changes in behavior. Art is no exception to this. The consumption and discovery of art has changed considerably in a short time.’
The engagement is also different. Art and technology are closely related. “We’re also seeing a trend from video to, say, Snap photos.” Famous artist Christo will soon pack the Arc de Triomphe with Snap filters. Big brands are also finding their way into the nft world. Louis Vuitton recently auctioned 200 pairs of shoes for $25 million. New categories appear.
According to Stewart, interest in NFTs is growing rapidly worldwide. Sotheby’s has nft clients in more than forty countries. Everyone wants to have exclusive access to certain art. Blockchain offers new ways to collect art. And you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to collect this kind of art.
Besides Stewart, Hungama CEO Neeraj Roy also shed light on the development. India’s largest mobile entertainment company along with blockchain company Polygon has big plans for the blockchain applications. NFTs provide Bollywood movie watchers with unique opportunities to participate in meet and greets with Bollywood stars. The market for NFTs is already worth $73 billion, more than twice the size of the entire movie market. India is embracing blockchain en masse, according to Roy. He sees at least five hundred million Indians entering the metaverse soon. Hefty Entertainment, which is a part of Hungama, thus becomes a major player in this field.
FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced during MWC that his financially struggling club will create its own cryptocurrency. Apart from the first step being the launch of an NFT, Laporta gave no further details. In general, he sees blockchain as an important tool for creating services to increase the engagement of the Spanish club’s three hundred million fans worldwide. This can make the fan experience even stronger.