In brief

  • The total trading volume of non-fungible token-based artworks exceeded $8.2 million in December.
  • This represents an increase of more than three times compared to November.
  • The crypto art scene also saw the biggest number of monthly active collectors so far.

December 2020 marked a new record for the blockchain-based art market, with the total trading volume of non-fungible token-based (NFT) works amounted to $8.21 million, according to analytics platform CryptoArt.io.

CryptoArt tracks various metrics across major NFT art marketplaces such as Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, MakersPlace, Async Art, and KnownOrigin. Among them, Nifty Gateway leads the pack, with roughly $6.67 million worth of crypto artworks sold in December. It is followed by SuperRare, which saw a trading volume of around $1.12 million last month.

Notably, December’s figures represent a sharp surge compared to November—when “only” around $2.6 million worth of artworks were traded. This can be partly explained by the ongoing price rally across all crypto markets. Since NFTs are usually bought with Ethereum, the higher the price of ETH gets, the bigger the dollar value is in total.

Likewise, December saw the highest number of monthly active collectors so far—414 compared to 258 in November.

The rise of NFT art

Unlike “common” crypto tokens, NFTs contain identifying information recorded in their smart contracts. This data makes each NFT different and unique as well as not interchangeable and scarce. Therefore, if an artist “embeds” his work into an NFT, it will remain one-of-a-kind as such.

Crypto art based around non-fungible tokens has exploded in 2020—along with its prices. In July 2020, "Picasso's Bull," a crypto artwork by Trevor Jones, sold for a then-record-breaking $55,555 on crypto art marketplace Nifty Gateway. In December, one investor paid $777,777 for a collection of digital art by Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann—with one second on the clock. In total, Beeple's art sale raised $3.5 million; at one point selling $582,000 worth of art in just five minutes.

Other sales in 2020 saw a piece of a virtual F1 race track auctioned off for $223,000 while another collector paid $65,000 for a Kylian Mbappé trading card in a blockchain-based fantasy football game.

“The NFT space has been on a meteoric rise over the last year and we viewed a sale like this as inevitable. It may have been one of the firsts of its kind, but it certainly won't be the last,” Tommy Kimmelman, head of artist relations at Nifty Gateway, told Decrypt at the time.

As the market matures, new innovations are cropping up; for example, Singapore-based platform NIFTEX enables users to create ERC-20 tokens representing fractions of NFTs, which can then be traded on decentralized exchanges such as Uniswap.

With NFTs booming in 2020, it looks like they have a bright future ahead of them in 2021.