the two faces of crypto art collectors

Erin, who prefers to keep her last name a secret, is not a geek. This affable 51-year-old brunette lives in an opulent 19th-century houseY century in Westchester County, a popular New York suburb. In real life, she watches over the historic buildings of Bronxville.

But his passion is now more virtual. Like so many others, Erin got sucked into digital property certificates whose authenticity is verified by blockchain technology, better known as “NFT” (non-fungible Tokens, “non-fungible tokens”). Three small cards that have been attracting attention for a year. The Chainalysis platform values ​​this cryptocurrency craze at around $41 billion (€38 billion). Yes, you read “billions” correctly!

For Erin, who actually prefers to be called “Elsie,” her nickname in the crypto world, it all started with the March 2021 sale of an NFT by crypto artist Beeple for $69.3 million. An earth tremor. “I thought it would cost $10,000 to break everything”, rewinds, surprised by the price, but attracted by the prospect of added value. Since then, everything has gone very fast. In one year, Erin-Elsie bought no fewer than one hundred NFTs, each worth between $1,000 and $40,000. The investment? She must think about it. “I am happy that my collection has already tripled its value”admits, while assuring that “do not look at these works as a stock of goods”.

“These collectors have a true passion, a desire for evangelization mixed with profit,” defends the specialist Fanny Lakoubay, who advises Elsie, as well as a fortnight more amateurs. In her eyes, buyers fall into two categories. On the one hand, fans of “collectibles”these NFTs based on a generative model, without originality, such as the “Bored Apes Yacht Club”, “Pudgy Penguins” or “CryptoPunks”. “They buy NFTs like shares, which they resell at a high price or at a loss, if the mayonnaise doesn’t take,” specifies Fanny Lakoubay.

On the other, a community of enthusiasts, that of crypto art buyers. Eyes riveted to Twitter, they favor word of mouth, swapping information in Discord messages and feverishly monitoring each other. release (‘sale’) of prominent artists as if their lives were at stake. Their gods are not called Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons, but Hackatao, an Italian duo already legendary on the crypto planet, Pak, the French collective Obvious or Pascal Boyart (also known as PBOY), known for his modern version of the Sistine Chapel.

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