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NFT prices drop, leaving buyers to just love the art – The Washington Post

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For years, Nate Hart admired a drawing of a cat: It was gray, with unusually large eyes, and pictured on a shattered, smoldering tablet. So last September, when the owner signaled they were willing to sell, Hart swooped in and offered a hefty sum: $600,000.
The price didn’t faze him because of a special detail: The cartoon, part of collection of cat images called CryptoKitties, is a non-fungible token, or NFT. NFTs are like Internet land deeds, letting owners lay claim to digital art, music and photographs. By certifying the asset on a digital ledger, called the blockchain, NFTs have transformed online art, turning images into coveted assets that can be owned and that presumably rise in value.
Around the time of his purchase, the market for NFTs was red-hot. Celebrities minted their own, Adidas partnered with prominent collectors, and Hart was part of a throng paying thousands — and in some cases millions — to scoop up their own digital art.
People paid eye-popping numbers: $69 million for a JPEG file by the digital artist Beeple; $10.5 million for a pixelated image that resembled the Joker character in Batman; and $5.4 million for a token of Edward Snowden’s face made out of court documents.
But with the crypto market cratering by $500 billion in recent weeks, the hype over NFTs has cooled. And while Hart, who goes by NateAlex on Twitter and is a cryptocurrency investor, is unlikely to sell, he knows that if he puts it on the market today, it would probably sell low. His cat picture isn’t from a sought-after collection, he said, like the colorful apes known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club or the pixelated people known as CryptoPunks.
“It’s more wait-and-see,” he said. “If it becomes a historical artifact, then it’s going to be extremely valuable. If that doesn’t happen, then maybe it just fades away into where nobody knows or ever cares about it.”
Hart isn’t alone. A host of collectors have shelled out small fortunes in recent months for digital assets whose worth is now in limbo.
An NFT of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, purchased last year by an Iranian crypto investor for $2.9 million, was put up for auction in April, with bids topping out at $280. A token of a pixelated man with sunglasses and hat that sold for roughly $1 million seven months ago brought just $138,000 on May 8. A digital token of an ape with a red hat, sleeveless T-shirt and multicolored grin part of the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club — purchased for over $520,000 on April 30, was sold for roughly half that price 10 days later.
Over the past three years, NFTs have generated significant excitement because proponents say they solve tricky problems. Digital images, once viewed as worthless because they could be easily copied, could now be owned and assigned monetary value. Collectible artworks, long seen as exclusive to high society, could now exist on decentralized, community-run networks, making them more appealing to a new generation.
But such high hopes have been punctured by bad actors targeting the industry with scams. In March, North Korean hackers stole more than $600 million from the NFT gaming company Axie Infinity, where tokens are used to gain entry into the game and purchase add-ons. In April, the Bored Ape Yacht Club reported that hackers cracked into their Instagram account, stealing $2.8 million worth of NFTs.
Recently, high-profile hiccups have also deflated investors. In late April, the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Yuga Labs, auctioned off millions in tokens offering land in a metaverse project they started. Its popularity caused the digital ledger it was being transacted on to nearly shut down. Trading volume also caused transaction fees to rise higher than the actual NFT price in some cases, news reports indicate.
“I think of NFTs as pure froth,” said Peter M. Garber, an economist and author of “Famous First Bubbles: The Fundamentals of Early Manias.” “It is more of a pump-and-dump, Wolf-of-Wall-Street operation than anything else.”
The market for NFTs blossomed in 2021, with investors spending roughly $40 billion on tokens, up from $106 million in 2020, data from crypto intelligence firm Chainalysis found. This year, NFTs have generated roughly $37 billion in sales as of May, data shows.
While that puts sales on pace to surpass last year’s, a few notable companies may be driving a large part of the growth, experts noted.
Transactions since last summer have come in “fits and starts,” according to a report from Chainalysis, with two spikes probably driving most activity: The late-August release of digital tokens from the Mutant Ape Yacht Club, a different collection of images of apes with colorful disfigurations, and a period between January to early February this year were probably driven by the launch of a new NFT marketplace, LooksRare.
Since then, transactions have declined significantly, the report found, dropping from $3.9 billion the week of Feb. 13 to $964 million the week of March 13, with increases recently coming from the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s project to sell land in the metaverse, which garnered $320 million in sales over two weeks ago.
Ethan McMahon, an economist for Chainalysis, said this indicates that the NFT market is starting to consolidate, with few companies holding a growing market share. NFTs generated by lesser-known companies and without celebrity appeal are beginning to lose traction. Those generated by high-end collections — known as blue chips — such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, will probably retain value with their mass appeal, financial backing, partnerships with mainstream brands like Adidas and collaborations with celebrities.
“Things are changing,” he said. “[What] we have been seeing is consolidation in the more well-known blue chip collections of NFTs.”
In recent days, multiple crypto experts have also noted that the precipitous drop in cryptocurrency has caused the market for high-end NFTs — ones that sell for thousands or even millions — to stall. Fewer bitcoin millionaires, they said, means less spending on luxury purchases like high-priced NFTs.
David Hsiao, the chief executive of the crypto magazine Block Journal, said he sold off his entire NFT collection over two weeks ago for a profit of around $165,000. That included his prized picture of an ape with a lazy stare, glasses, collared shirt and green vest — part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection — that he had purchased for roughly $210,000 in October. He said the market for digital assets looks bleak in the days ahead, and he wanted to limit the damage by selling now.
Hsiao added that he expects the NFT market to suffer because of the declining price of cryptocurrency, along with other conditions like inflation, the prospect of rising interest rates, the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine. After selling his NFTs, he converted his proceeds to USD Coin, a cryptocurrency pegged to the U.S. dollar.
“If we enter a real recession, NFTs are going to be the first to go,” he said. “People aren’t going to value art, especially such a new age of digital art, when there’s a lot more problems in the world.”
Some industries, like video games and the high-end art market, find NFTs useful and likely to retain value.
Noah Davis, who leads NFT work at Christie’s, said the auction house will sell the digital assets for a long time. It plans to hold shows biannually in New York, London and Hong Kong where it will sell tokens of artwork, and it is also partnering with OpenSea, an NFT marketplace.
NFTs solve an essential problem, Davis said, in that they “give currency to ephemeral goods in an era where people are tending to favor virtual life,” but he agrees there are people who will lose lots of money by making bad investments.
“This is an especially democratic and open marketplace and definitely is affected by hype and FOMO,” he said, using the acronym for “fear of missing out.” “And people make bad decisions in every single market.”
Deepak Thapliyal, the chief executive of the cryptocurrency company Chain, who purchased a rare NFT of a pixelated alien in February for $23.7 million, isn’t afraid. “My decision to purchase a rare Alien Crypto Punk remains the same as it is today,” he said in a statement to The Washington Post. “It is a rare piece of digital art which will have a lifetime of value to the beholder.”
Meanwhile, Frank Chaparro, an NFT collector who works for the crypto news firm The Block, said he has paid more than $20,000 for his collection of NFTs, which includes tokens like Froyo Kittens, which are images of cats in bowls.
Nowadays, they probably have very little value, he said. But Chaparro added that he isn’t worried because what drove him to purchase these NFTs wasn’t a desire to make money, but an attraction to the characteristics of the image and the community they created.
“Does it hurt? Of course,” Chaparro said. “You want what you have to go up, but think about all the things you enjoy having that really don’t have value but they say something about yourself.”

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Cardano (ADA) and Dogecoin (DOGE) Volatility Leads Investors To Buy Flasko (FLSK) | Bitcoinist.com – Bitcoinist

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Some cryptocurrencies are stable, but they are not capable of delivering the returns that investors are looking forward to having. Cardano (ADA) and Dogecoin (DOGE) are great examples of cryptocurrencies. Due to the same reason, investors are now looking for alternative cryptocurrencies like Flasko.
Dogecoin (DOGE) Is Hanging On
There is no demand at all for meme coins as of now. However, the best meme coin, Dogecoin (DOGE), is still hanging on.
Dogecoin (DOGE) completed a $44 billion acquisition last month. And Twitter is looking forward to working closely with Dogecoin (DOGE) as well. Hence, Dogecoin (DOGE) will be able to stay while other leading cryptocurrencies struggle.
Cardano (ADA) Might Bounce Back
Another major cryptocurrency that investors are mindful of is Cardano (ADA). Cardano (ADA) recently went through a massive update that helped investors to keep better hopes for the future of cryptocurrency.
Cardano (ADA) is gaining value along with the increasing popularity of Metaverse. At the end of the current bear market, Cardano (ADA) is expected to become one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrencies to be made available out there.
Flasko (FLSK) Is Doing Well
Despite the bear market, Flasko is doing good as a new project because of its unique and innovative concept. Flasko enables people to purchase luxurious and rare wines, champagne, and whiskey. The purchases are made digitally in the form of NFTs. However, there will be a physical allocation of the bottles, which users can get when they purchase the full NFT.
The phase 2 presale of Flasko project recently started at $0.085. This value is further expected to increase exponentially in early 2023.
Website: https://flasko.io
Presale: https://presale.flasko.io
Telegram: https://t.me/flaskoio
Twitter: https://twitter.com/flasko_io
 
Disclaimer: This is a paid release. The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the content provider and do not necessarily represent those of Bitcoinist. Bitcoinist does not guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of information available in such content. Do your research and invest at your own risk.
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Here's Why This Rare Bored Ape NFT Just Sold For $933,792 In ETH – Ethereum (ETH/USD) – Benzinga

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The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is an exclusive community for holders of the ape and mutant themed NFT collections on Ethereum's blockchain. Commonly referred to as the Bored Apes, only 10,000 generative art pieces will ever be in existence.
What happened: Bored Ape #1268 just sold for 780.00 ETH ETH/USD ($933,792 USD). The value of Bored Apes is typically determined by the Ape's attributes, with the laser eyes, crown, and golden fur traits being the most coveted.
Here are a list of its attributes and how many others have the same trait:
Why it Matters: Bored Apes are the ultimate store of culture for NFT collectors. The NFT collection has gained huge influence in 2021, with an ever growing list of top tier celebrities making apes their profile pictures on Twitter. With the recent explosion in popularity surrounding the Metaverse, rare blockchain-based avatars are all the rage for those looking to flex online.
Being a member of the Bored Ape Yacht Club is not just about flexing online. Yuga Labs, the creators of the Bored Apes throw exclusive parties often with free private performances from members of the club such as Lil Baby. Other notable celebrities in the club include Post Malone, Stephen Curry, Dez Bryant, and Jimmy Kimmel.
Yuga Labs also created another NFT collection known as the Mutant Apes, which also provides membership to the elusive club. There are a total of 20,000 Mutant Apes, and the price floor is historically lower than the Bored Apes.

See Also: NFT Release Calendar and Best NFT Projects of 2021
Data provided by OpenSea.
Checkout the full Bored Ape Yacht Club collection
You can learn more about this NFT here.
This article was generated by Benzinga's automated content engine and reviewed by an editor.
© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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How to buy NFTs: Trojans' venture Moonlight aims to make it easier – USC News

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Blake Asherian realizes that most people don’t have a spare $60,000 just lying around — which is about what you’d need to buy an NFT (non-fungible token) of any real value. He also understands that at a broader level, most people don’t even know what an NFT is or how to buy one.
That’s why Asherian and three other Trojans — Gabriel Perez, Matthew Hausman and Can Toraman — have started Moonlight, a fractionalized NFT marketplace that allows users to buy, own and sell fractions of an NFT in a simple and user-friendly way.
Moonlight — Blake Asherian, CEO and founder; Matthew Hausman, frontend architect; Can Toraman, technical advisor; and Gabriel Perez, product and community (clockwise from top left) — allows users to buy, own and sell fractions of an NFT in a simple and user-friendly way. (Photos/Courtesy of Blake Asherian, Matthew Hausman, Can Toraman and Gabriel Perez)
Despite gaining significant traction within the last year, NFTs are still in their infancy, and there are financial risks involved given their uncertainty and high price tags. Moonlight hopes to remedy that, or at least help bridge the gap between most people and this emerging space.
“If the average personal income is 63K, and the average cost of a blue-chip NFT is 51K, that’s a big problem,” said Asherian, a business administration undergraduate in the USC Marshall School of Business.
“Part of the reason why people are not as prone to getting into NFTs is because there’s such a high barrier in terms of knowledge, and technology,” Asherian added. “We’re breaking down that barrier.”
The concept of Moonlight is simple: A group of people will choose an NFT they want to crowdfund, and once the funding goal is reached, each crowdfunder becomes a co-owner. From there, co-owners can buy and sell their fractions on Moonlight’s platform.
Though the platform might be simple — or at the least the goal is to make it as simple as possible for people — the concept of an NFT isn’t widely understood and can seem a little daunting.
Essentially, an NFT is a unique piece of digital art that is certified using blockchain, an immutable record of ownership. The non-fungible part means that no two items are alike or equal. NFTs function similarly to how people collect and sell art or trading cards. Some items are worth next to nothing, while others fetch millions of dollars.
Moonlight’s goal is for people to have the opportunity to own fractions of NFTs of real value, which is why the company focuses on “blue chip” — or most valuable — NFTs, like Bored Ape or CryptoPunks, which have the potential to provide long-term returns and can easily go for six figures.
But why would a digital image of an ape or a pixelated person be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Well, why would someone pay over $7 million for a baseball card? Or thousands for any of the “contemporary art” listed on Sotheby’s?
All are fair questions, and the answers could vary depending on the person or item. The common factor is that collectors feel that these are assets that will increase in value. NFTs are just the newest version.
I would always argue with people: What is the difference between your trading card and an NFT? They took a picture of a guy and then put it on a piece of paper, and it has value somehow.
Matthew Hausman, Moonlight frontend architect
“I would always argue with people: What is the difference between your trading card and an NFT?” said Hausman, Moonlight frontend architect and 2021 USC Viterbi School of Engineering graduate.
“They took a picture of a guy and then put it on a piece of paper, and it has value somehow.”
For those who only read certain media accounts, it may seem like NFTs and the cryptocurrency used to buy them are a losing venture, and they might be for some. However, the creators of Moonlight were quick to point out that there are a lot of financial risks out there, and their platform’s crowdfunding feature can help eliminate some of those potential dangers.
With Moonlight, crowdfunding is key. Users select an NFT and then have a certain number of days to raise the funds. If the money is raised in time, the NFT is moved to the Moonlight platform where people can buy and sell shares. If the funds are not raised in time, then everyone who contributed gets their money back.
“No other protocol allows you to literally raise funds to buy cool stuff together,” Asherian said. “The secret sauce here is having a technology that can allow any number of people to put their money into something and as a group get anything they want.”
The next concept, fractionalization, is not necessarily new, but how Moonlight allows users to fractionalize is in direct response to a large issue within the NFT community. Right now, someone who owns an NFT can fractionalize it and sell those fractions at whatever price they see fit, regardless of the actual market value. People who are knowledgeable about and can afford a six-figure blue-chip NFT don’t have a need for fractionalization. So, the practice can take advantage of those who are new to the space — a problem that Moonlight wants to correct.
“For a bunch of people who are just entering the space of NFTs, how can they trust that that valuation is true?” Asherian said. “They don’t know enough about the protocols or the NFT collections. They’re kind of swayed in an untrue direction and it’s unfair to them.”
Asherian and his team at Moonlight emphasize that their platform is truly for everyone. NFTs — and even the cryptocurrency used to purchase them — might seem daunting for those who aren’t already in that world, but their hope is to take away some of that hesitance.
“At the end of the day, if you look at who’s into NFTs, it’s that 1%, right?” Asherian said. “We want to tap into the 99%, so we have to create a product that’s comprehensive for that group, which not too long ago included myself.”
The initial concept for Moonlight came to Asherian in late 2021, but his interest in NFTs started around two years ago when he was working for his cousin, Sean Rad, the founder and former CEO of the dating app Tinder. Rad — at one time at USC student — had invested in Genies, an avatar technology company, and Genies co-founder Akash Nigam started talking to Asherian about the company’s venture into NFTs. Though Asherian knew nothing about NFTs or blockchain, the concepts piqued his interest.
Soon after, he left his jobs to buy and sell NFTs full time. He admits that there were some definite growing pains early on because of the high barrier to entry, but those missteps put him in a position to succeed down the road.
He started drafting up the concept for Moonlight while studying abroad in Paris last year. He connected with fellow Trojans abroad which led to even more connections when he returned stateside. Asherian credits USC with introducing him to Perez, Hausman and Toraman, and making Moonlight what it is today.
Ever since I was a freshman, I’ve always heard that term ‘Trojan Family,’ but then I was really able to witness what it can do.
Blake Asherian, Moonlight CEO and founder
“I really believe in the Trojan Family and what it offers,” Asherian said. “Ever since I was a freshman, I’ve always heard that term ‘Trojan Family,’ but then I was really able to witness what it can do.”
A transfer student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Perez said his interest in NFTs has been a gradual progression since he was in high school. He started by selling stocks with his friends, and then in college he found a new interest in cryptocurrency.
“I kind of fell in love with the philosophy behind Bitcoin, which is a very anti-centralization of money, anti-central banks, power-back-to-the-people sort of thing,” said Perez, a junior economics major in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
“Then I learned about Ethereum, which was the first time I realized this has a huge potential to be the currency of the internet in the future.”
Ultimately, Perez, product and community lead at Moonlight, felt that if he wanted to further his career in the crypto world, he’d have to move somewhere where he felt it was more popular and valued. He found just such an innovative environment at USC, where USC Viterbi even offers a blockchain minor.
He came to USC before the fall 2021 semester and joined Blockchain@USC — a student-run organization that engages with blockchain-related topics, develops blockchain applications, and connects with industry professionals — as the director of external relations.
We started talking about fractionalizing NFTs and the ability for smaller capital players to be able to dive into these collections, and I was hooked from there.
Gabriel Perez, Moonlight, product and community
At USC, both within his field of study and social groups, Perez surrounded himself with other like-minded people that shared his passion, which is when he first heard about NFTs and eventually met Asherian.
“We started talking about fractionalizing NFTs and the ability for smaller capital players to be able to dive into these collections, and I was hooked from there,” Perez said.
By the end of the spring 2022 semester, Perez and Asherian had formed the Moonlight team formed and started the work to launch their idea.
The Moonlight crew is aware of some of the sustainability concerns with NFTs, primarily the proof-of-work blockchain system that is used by most cryptocurrencies so that transactions can be processed peer-to-peer in a secure manner without the need for a third party. Proof-of-work consumes a significant amount of energy. Rooms full of computers are needed to run complex mathematical equations, and coolers are needed to make sure those computers don’t overheat. By one estimate, mining 1 Bitcoin consumes as much electricity as a standard American home would use in nine years.
Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain, which currently uses proof-of-work. However, next month the Ethereum “Merge” will shift its blockchain to proof-of-stake, which uses 99.95% less energy by reducing the amount of computational work needed to verify the blocks and transactions that keep the blockchain secure.
“Fingers crossed that ‘Merge’ goes well because it’s a very anticipated catalyst in the crypto world,” Perez said. “If it does go correctly, NFTs are probably not going to have much of an environmental footprint at all, compared to something like a few office buildings downtown.”
But before they get to the point of using more sustainable blockchain, Asherian said they must establish their footing. Moonlight is projected to go live later this fall, and Asherian said once they’ve developed their community and built trust, they can influence people to move towards more sustainable methods.
“When you’re a huge marketplace that everyone starts suspecting has authority within the NFT space, then you’re able to sort of tell them what to do next,” Asherian said. “We really want to be able to gain that authority, and the way to do so is by being transparent, simple and fun.”
Trust and NFTs — or crypto, for that matter — might not go hand-in-hand just yet for much of the general population, but that’s exactly what Moonlight is hoping to fix. They see NFTs as an opportunity not just for those “in the know,” but for everyone.
“We believe there is power in numbers,” Asherian said. “At the end of the day, we want to give power to the people so they can own anything they want, together.”
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