Late last Friday, Izzy Pollak decided to buy two Bored Ape NFTs – as a reminder to many who are thinking, Yes, but I still don’t know what NFT is – which means he bought unique, digital images (in this case, of apes).
As the owner of Bored Ape, he now has the commercial rights to the digital images to make at will. Many people choose to display their NFT as their profile picture on social media accounts.
(And if you’re wondering how to prove ownership of digital assets: Each NFT, or non-fungible token, has a unique serial number and transaction history for each NFT. stored on the blockchain, so everyone can see who the real owner is.)
Mr. Pollak, 29, who purchased three more a few months later, obtained these from a collection of 10,000 NFTs known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Some of the gibbons are wearing yellow coats or tunics with animal prints. Others are smoking cigars or smiling broadly.
At the time, Mr. Pollak, who worked for Genies, a Los Angeles tech startup that makes NFTs and avatars, didn’t have much disposable income. “I live in a four-bedroom townhouse with three other people,” he said. “We all share the same bathroom. It feels like college life.”
Nor is he from money. During the 2008 financial crisis, Mr. Pollak said, when he was 16, his mother couldn’t pay the mortgage, so he and his family had to rent an apartment.
Mr. Pollak’s interest in the NFT was spurred by hearing people talk about them on Clubhouse. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy. I’m about to spend hundreds of dollars on a picture of a monkey,” he said.
It turned out to be a wise decision. Last fall, a few months after he bought his first NFTs, Mr. Pollak’s tailless monkeys skyrocketed in value. He sold one he bought for about 14 Ether (a virtual currency worth about $40,000 on the day of purchase) for about 70 Ether (approximately $40,000). $231,000 on sale date).
He used the money to pay for a three-bedroom house in Los Angeles with a backyard. “We call it the Chimpanzee Cabin,” he said, laughing. “I’ve always wanted to own a home but never thought I could make it work.”
He now has three NFTs Ape Bored Ape in your investment portfolio. He hasn’t sold them yet, but he will one day. For the first time in his life he felt financially well off.
A lucky few now have their own wealth stories thanks to the NFT. Matt Medved, founder of Nft Now, a digital media publication about NFTs, says that by investing in the right projects at the right time, a number of digital collectors and artists have made a fortune. Money changes lives”. Some are using the money to pay off student loans, buy a home, or quit a job they hate. (Of course, some are also buying yachts or throwing lavish parties.)
“NFT is like manna from heaven,” said Mr. Pollak, who also admits how lucky he is. “I have heard horror stories about people spending rent on the NFT. It’s heartbreaking to see people risk their money when it usually doesn’t work out.”
Most of the people who create or buy NFT never make a profit. There are no regulations or consumer protections, and trading them is essentially as risky as gambling. Investing in cryptocurrencies is risky and involves a lot of technical know-how and luck; some financial experts will recommend it, and scams are numerous.
Mr. Medved encourages people to think of NFTs like baseball cards. “For generations, our society has accepted that rare baseball cards have value,” he said. “There was a rare Mickey Mantle card that cost 5 cents to make that sold for $5.2 million last year. And why? It’s not about the physical part of the card stock. It’s history, rarity, scarcity, cultural fit. ”
“It depends on the fandom,” he added.
Similarly, what many NFT artists create or invest in will be of little or no value in the long run. But there are a number of NFTs that have become very valuable and have earned their owners and creators large sums of money in a short amount of time.
For example, the Bored Apes Mr. Pollak purchased could be minted – i.e. put on the market – at 0.8 Ether ($200 last spring). Now, less than a year later, the cheapest one is worth around 73 Ether (about $190,000). (Ether can be converted to cash on major crypto platforms like Coinbase and Gemini and then transferred to a bank account.)
Claire Silver, an artist in her 30s working with artificial intelligence, is another NFT success story. In 2017, she was given three CryptoPunks, a collection of 10,000 unique pixel-art characters generated by an algorithm, by someone she met on Slack.
“I was in a crypto chat room, and I met this guy who was interested in the art,” said Silver, who is nomadic but most recently lives in Denver. He told her he had 730 CryptoPunks, she said, “and asked if I wanted three. I said, “Sure.”
In 2017, collectors can claim CryptoPunks for free as long as they have an Etherum wallet. Currently, the cheapest one is being sold for around 68 Ether (nearly $175,000).
She holds her until 2020, when she heard the ruckus that they were selling for a lot of money. She sold one in July 2021 for about $60,000 and still has two more left. (Many sold for six figures. One sold last month for nearly $600,000.)
Ms. Silver also created her own NFT. She, like all NFT artists, makes money from the initial sale and can get 10% on every secondary sale. One of her pieces sold for 15 Ether ($63,000 at the time).
She saved a lot so that she finally feels financially secure, at least for now. “This money is a big deal for me because I come from a poor background. She said. “I walked into Walmart one day and said, ‘I can buy cheese, I can buy good coffee.’ I have never experienced that freedom before.”
She recently returned from a trip to England, where Sotheby’s is auctioning her work, and took a trip to Japan.
This month, she even gave her mother a house, which she paid for with all cash. “I have one of those big red bows, and I will stick it on the front door like in those ads,” she said. “I’ve wanted to do something like this for my mom since I was a kid.”
A glossary. Cryptocurrencies have gone from a curiosity to a viable investment, making them nearly impossible to ignore. If you’re having trouble with terminology, let us help:
Just two years ago Alex Lugo, 29, lives in Lindenhurst, NY, drives a truck to support his wife and two children, 9 and 5. “I make $25 an hour,” he said. “It’s nothing in New York.” He decided to sign up for a program to learn how to trade cryptocurrencies, and it changed his family’s lives.
While some collectors buy select NFTs and keep them for years, he’s exposed a lot in the short term. “I ended up buying them and flipping some of them for 10K, some for 30K, some for 5K, 2K,” he said.
He has also profited from investing in newer types of NFTs. “I own property in Metaverse next to Adidas headquarters,” he said. “It’s like owning real estate in the Hamptons, because what will Adidas do when they want to expand? They would buy me out and pay me millions of dollars to move.”
(“This sounds more speculative than anything that can be easily proven,” Mr. Medved said in an email.)
Mr. Lugo made enough money from this personal sale and he quit his job as a truck driver in January 2021. Now, he says, he was able to set aside a significant amount of savings for his children. who will “have the freedom to choose what they want to do with their lives. “
He and his family currently live in a two-bedroom apartment, but he is looking to buy a four-bedroom home in Lindenhurst.
NFT has helped others get themselves out of their financial hole and have a fresh start.
Gossamer Farris, 32 years old, currently a full-time artist in Brooklyn. But it took NFTs to get her there comfortably.
After graduating from college, she worked 9 to 5 at a student loan service center. “I did as much art as I could after work,” she says. “I am doing illustrations and sculptures as well as textile work, and I am also making items like little stickers that people can buy in my online store.”
In 2019, she quit that job to become a tattoo artist, but it’s also been a struggle, especially in the early months of the pandemic. “I had a hard time making a living,” she said. “Unfortunately, I was saddled with a lot of debt such as credit card debt and health-related debt because I am transgender and had surgery.”
In the winter of 2021, she saw that people were going crazy for the NFT and she decided to try making her own collections, with work focusing on her Filipino and Black heritage and collaborations. with other artists on their NFT.
She has paid off her debt and now makes enough money through NFTs so she can follow her passion. “I don’t have pressure that I need to make money as an artist,” she said. “I can pay the rent and not have to worry about making a living.”
While some people are getting rich on NFTs, Mr. Medved advises people to remember that many other NFT projects lose value over time. “You should never invest more than you are willing to lose,” he said. “The NFT space, like the crypto space, is volatile and markets go up and down very quickly.”
“I think a lot of NFTs will go to zero in the long run,” he said. “Your success depends on your ability to select the best projects and that is not easy.”