NFT for dummies

NFT - Crypto Art

The digital world allows for the infinite reproduction of objects, or turns them into merchandises. However, in the art market world, creating rarity and value is capital. Hence the frenzy of interrogations brought up when a new technology such as crypto revolutionizes the system of values, like NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens— basically lines of codes on a blockchain containing information only readable by the owner of the key. 

Here is everything you need to know about NFT and blockchain. 

 NFTs like Cryptocurrencies are backed by a blockchain technology acting like a transparent registry. NFTs are unique, individual, and thus do not possess the same or equal value, as their data are all inherently different, unlike dollars (or a bitcoin currency), that are interchangeable with one another. They exist on a blockchain, a transparent database showing the history of every transaction that is updated and shared across a network of computers such as Ethereum, proving them to be safe from duplication.

In that sense NFTs act as permanent digitalized memories of the tokens. They are the authenticity certificate that is linked to the piece of art, meaning you own the unique ID number assigned to the piece of art contained in the blockchain. 

The difference with digital art as an art technique and medium is that you when you acquire a work by a digital artist you have the copyright : in other words the buyer is free to show it on his website. In the NFTs case, the digital receipt is the purchaser proof of transaction but the NFTs-backed original’s access is available to everyone. You can always download the image of Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5 000 Days” on your computer, because digital art can be easily and endlessly duplicated, but you will not have access to its NFT.

Ryoji Ikeda A Single Number That Has 10,000,086 Digits

This unique, traçable and undisputed ownership record of digital artwork can be traded in the secondary market, to the extent of the item’s popularity. This growth has been fueled by numerous actors. We should consider the innovative and proactive role taken by artists, creating their own brands and internet fame. Nonetheless, the traditional art market institutions, stakeholders and intermediaries (auction houses, galleries) have played a prominent role in the development of the NFTs market, by swiftly understanding the utility and collective interest to rejuvenate the art value system, and « explore the potential applications of blockchain within the art market » (Christie’s Art + Tech Summit:, July 2018). A new wide audience, already interested in contemporary digital art or passionate about cryptocurrencies, knowledgable about NFTS, tends to create a gap between a new generation of digital speculators and blue-chip collectors. 





 Several marketplaces were people buy and sell on the Internet have popped up around NFTs (OpenSea, Rarible, Grimes’ choice, Binance NFT, Nifty Gateway etc.). This opens up possibilities for non represented artists to gain recognition, new selling platforms, access to a more heterogenous public. Or it allows  non traditional digital artists – not willing to be represented by galleries – to sell without intermediaries to buyers online. Artists with physical and tangible works can sell the physical objects as well as the intellectual property (the NFT of the digital image of a sculpture, a painting, a drawing…) ultimately adding a supplementary source of revenue. 

From cryptocurrency to NFT : how did it happen?         
Cryptocurrencies have dramatically increased and  gained widespread attention and recognition. The crypto market rose steeply, now worth around $1.5 trillion, with Bitcoin being the best-known cryptocurrency in the global economy. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, like bitcoin or dogecoin, and newly created others that are multiplying, but what is important to remember is that the Ethereum blockchain also supports NFTs. On Etherum popped up the first transferable and non replicable virtual art tokens that was monetized and collected during a craze in 2017, called CryptoKitties and CryptoPunks. This shows how NFTS are indeed not a new concept in the video games scene, when you collect digital items inside the games.



NFTs are associated with cryptocurrency as they can be securely transferred via crypto wallet methods and stored in digital wallets. They can be sold and bought online with cryptocurrency on an NFT marketplace.  Given the fast-moving market and steep prices for recent NFT sales, crypto investment passionates seem to be diversifying their wealth, and thus it is no surprise that contemporary artworks turned into NFTs reach record sales. Like fine art and contemporary art, they work like any other speculative assets. 

What now? 
The parallel between fine arts, the real-world art market displayed in auction houses, and the crypto art is getting closer than ever. On May 14th, 2019 a master copy after Claude Monet’s « Meules » was auctioned at Sotheby’s’ for $110.7 million. One week later the artist Matt Kane minted and sold at Sotheby’s his first NFT « Meules after Claude Monet ». In an astute play with the meta, he reproduced the painting « with the artist’s custom digital art studio software with the dream to one day use NFT technology to connect this digital master copy to Monet’s original oil painting through provenance under the same auction house. ».


Now that the NFTs’ art market has exploded especially during the global lockdown a more democratized access to an innovative form of art has emerged and challenges the traditional way of selling art. One could argue that the old idea of ownership has expired as NFTs can be attached to real-world physical or digital objects, as well as tweets, memes, New York times Columns, NBA games moments, artistic creations – basically everything and nothing – and convert them into digital collectible items that are auctioned off. 

NFTS are now absolutely part of mainstream conversation. Latest NFT related physical or digital events have become an immeasurable ecosystem, with auction houses’ own metaverse, the first NFT Art Fairs, crypto art exhibitions, NFT galleries or new NFT sections in the biggest Art fairs in crypto capitals like Dubai or Tokyo.  

The endless amount of exciting experimental projects has broadened the horizon of the art market in a way that makes following the NFT experience as tricky as it is messy.