Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has admitted he doesn’t fully understand the appeal of the non-fungible token (NFT) market.
That's not due to any flaw in the technology, though; Bankman-Fried noted that he struggles to grasp the "visual aesthetics" of artwork in general. "I personally don’t understand the appeal of a Rembrandt painting," he told Axios earlier today. "So when I see NFTs, part of me is like… I don’t get the appeal of some of these."
Bankman-Fried might not fully see the appeal of NFTs but that hasn’t stopped his exchange from wading into NFT waters. NFTs are cryptographically unique tokens that provide proof of ownership over digital and physical assets; they can be linked to images, videos, audio, or just about anything in between.
The exchange launched its very own NFT marketplace last month, hot on the heels of Bankman-Fried’s own NFT auction; an image depicting the handwritten word "test", which sold for the staggering sum of $270,000 on FTX.US.
“But the Mona Lisa compared to somebody writing ‘test’ as a JPEG?” the Axios reporter asked Bankman-Fried, to which he replied, “Well, how about those paintings that are like six lines that cross with each other, how much would that be worth? I think they all look dumb to me.”
The FTX CEO also conceded that while NFTs—and traditional works of art, even world-famous pieces—all "look dumb" to him, they "mean a lot to the people buying them."
Which, the evidence suggests, is true.
NFTs—and the avatar trends they have spurred on social media—represent a form of community in a digitizing world.
The ongoing NFT boom
The first half of this year saw total NFT sales swell to $2.5 billion.
Major name brands like Visa and Budweiser have jumped on the NFT bandwagon, too, as have many of the world’s most famous sports names like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
But as much momentum as NFTs have in the online world, they are also beginning to feature in the real world, too.
Just this month, Decrypt has visited two London art exhibitions that have heavily featured NFTs and AI generative art.