In brief

  • An anonymous bidder purchased the "most expensive NFT" of the year in 2019.
  • Now, that purchaser has come forward under the pseudonym "Metakovan."
  • In an interview with the Blockchain Gaming World podcast, Metakovan explains why he made the extravagant purchase.

In May 2019, an anonymous bidder spent over $110,000 in Ethereum on a virtual race car add-on for a blockchain video game. The game was F1 Delta Time, and the car—imposing, jewel-encrusted, and very much not real—was called the 1-1-1.

Now, that anonymous NFT whale has revealed himself—sort of.

The pseudonymous “Metakovan” has come forward as the buyer, according to a Medium post from Animoca Brands, the creators of F1 Delta Time and the issuers of the NFT. Metakovan is the chief financier behind Metapurse, a company that invests in virtual art, real estate, and other digital collectibles via non-fungible tokens. In a short bio, he describes himself as an “angel investor in blockchain technology since 2013” and a “Y Combinator alumnus.”

Now, you could be forgiven if the whole thing feels to you a little bit like that episode of The Simpsons in which Milhouse’s sad, newly divorced dad brags to Homer that he sleeps in a race car bed

But, actually, non-fungible tokens, which are certifiably one-of-one, irreproducible assets on the blockchain, have become one of the buzziest investments of choice among crypto enthusiasts over the past year. Last month, Christie’s auctioned off an NFT (and accompanying real-world artwork) for over $130,000.

In an interview with the Blockchain Gaming World podcast, Metakovan said that the virtual car was a worthwhile investment in part because of the story behind it, and that the other bidders competing for ownership made it appealing; their interest piqued his own. 

“NFTs are all about stories,” he said on the podcast. “Anything of value is about the story that’s behind it.” The value, he said, was in that other people seemed to be interested in the mystery behind this virtual car.

Metakovan spent 415.9 worth of Wrapped Ethereum (a token with the same value as ETH that’s compatible with the ERC-20 protocol, and more easily tradable) on the crypto collectible race car. At the time, that was worth precisely $111,111, he said. (At today’s prices, though, that’s closer to $193,000.) According to Animoca's Medium post, it was the most expensive NFT sold in 2019.

“I thought, OK, either this game is going to be big, or this will be the worst purchase in my life,” he said during the interview. “I’m, like, sitting and thinking, I could’ve bought a real car for this. And that’s what makes good stories, actually, at the end of the day.”