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Breakingviews - Capital Calls: Crypto art

Cryptocurrency miners are seen on racks at the HydroMiner cryptocurrency farming operation near Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Concise insights on global finance in the Covid-19 era.

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CRYPTO FOR YOUR WALL. Finally, there’s a clear-cut use for blockchain technology. Digital art is ripe for unauthorized duplication. So-called non-fungible tokens or NFTs can be used to turn an artist’s work into a one-of-a-kind digital token worth millions.

It’s hard to pin down the fundamental value or usefulness of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether. Yet the steep – if volatile – runup in their dollar prices, taking the theoretical outstanding value of these two combined to over $1 trillion, shows their appeal to geeks, establishment skeptics and, increasingly, regular investors – at least at the margin.

Art collectors are now also on the list. Early NFT efforts brought the world CryptoKitties, as Wired reminds us. Trading them initially clogged up the ethereum blockchain. “Everydays: The first 5000 days” by artist Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann, is the progeny of those frivolous cats. As of Monday morning, the high bid for the 5,000-image digital collage is $3 million in a Christie’s auction that runs until March 11. Ether accepted, of course. (By Richard Beales)

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