The NFT market experienced significant growth and maturity in 2021, with renowned auction house Sotheby’s selling NFTs for millions of dollars and making over $100 million in digital collectible sales by the end of the year. Sotheby’s entry into the NFT space not only signaled the acceptance of NFTs in the art world but also established them as prestigious digital artworks. Despite a decline in interest in NFTs since the peak in January 2022, the art and fashion industries have continued to embrace them.
In a recent auction, Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers “The Goose” NFT sold for an impressive hammer price of $5.4 million at Sotheby’s, making it the second-highest-selling digital collectible to date. This auction further demonstrates the continued serious consideration of NFTs by art enthusiasts and collectors.
According to Young, the recent auction results at Sotheby’s indicate the resilience of the NFT market and attract positive attention from external sources. She highlighted that Sotheby’s had initially estimated that “The Goose” would sell for $2-3 million. However, the NFT exceeded all expectations by closing at $6.2 million, surpassing its original sale price from 2021. Young sees these successful sales during a bear market as a validation of the long-term viability of NFTs, unlike many high-value sales during the peak of NFT mania that failed to capture the same level of validation.
In August 2021, “The Goose” NFT was purchased by 3AC co-founders Su Zhu and Kyle Davies for around 1,800 ETH, equivalent to approximately $5.8 million at that time. In the recent Sotheby’s auction, it was acquired by a pseudonymous NFT collector known as 6529. Young observed that the fact that “The Goose” has been reabsorbed into the NFT community from a now-defunct hedge fund showcases the passion and conviction of artists and collectors in the space.
The buyer expressed the belief that important crypto-cultural markets should remain decentralized, and the collective purchase of “The Goose” through an on-chain museum emphasizes the unique culture of crypto, which should be celebrated and shared beyond narrow boundaries.
However, the recent Sotheby’s auction represents only one aspect of the NFT landscape. Despite the exciting subculture of NFTs and occasional auction stories that gain mainstream attention, NFTs have become old news for most people. Data from Dune shows a significant decline in the number of Ethereum wallets trading NFTs since January 2023, and the trading of NFTs remains a niche pursuit, at least for now.
Young suggests that the recent Sotheby’s event had a broader significance beyond the resale value of the NFTs. She believes that those who solely focus on record-breaking prices may be overlooking the true essence of the event.
According to Young, the conversations surrounding the auction centered more on the aesthetic beauty and the profound impact of being at the unique crossroads of art, technology, and community. The emphasis was less on the constant discussion of floor prices that one might expect based on media coverage of the auction.