After the 1`600 ETH ($7 mn USD) sale of XCOPY‘s “Right-click and Save As guy“i to Coz this past week,ii a healthy chat ensued online. But since some chat platforms can be a bit of a dumpster fire for longer threads, it’s worth immortalising [and adnotating] one of the deeper and more enjoyable conversations herebelow. Without further ado:
12yr Old With A Credit Card: Crypto art movement died today.
Pete D: Strong claim. Expand?
12yr: We had something so precious and we gave it to bad actors who do not have our values who are not from our tribe for what… magic internet money?
andy8052: iii I think calling cozmo a bad actor is a huge stretch. We can’t just gate keep all whales from getting into NFTs. Mans makes a serious effort.
12yr: No no no not trying to gatekeep! We need them they are our exit liquidity. It is the natural evolution of the collection of an artist. Eventually we all dump on Steve Cohen and go our merry ways. More of what I’m trying to say is… what’s next?
Pete: Some of us intend to compete with Steve Cohen rather than concede all of this bountiful new territory. So selling makes dry powder for more building and investing in the next wave. This is ideally a game of empire, not race to tequila island.iv
12yr: Seize the memes of production!v
Justin Paterno:vi Exactly. I do think who we sell to matters but if In the end all we have is jpegs and they all they have is money, then as time goes on, we don’t get to determine culture at all. They do.
Pete: [Furthermore] the magic internet money is at least as much a part of the culture as the jpegs. As Pakvii demonstrated earlier this week, it’s a creative’s world and we’re all just living in it. As long as the candle of creativity burns, we’ll find a way.
12yr: I don’t think crypto art is dead that’s like an old man shouting at the cloud. I think the movement is dead. This all reminds me of the hangover that followed the French New Wave when Godard and Truffautviii were out trying to make big budget films almost Hollywood like but had no soul. It’s the movement that is dead.
Pete: This phase of the movement couldn’t last much longer.ix It burned brightly and beautifully for as long as it could. After 2013, I never thought I’d see anything so precious in my life ever again but 2021 provided it. May we live to see yet another, and if not, how lucky we’ve been.
12yr: Beautiful words. Could not say it better. We shall see something again. Probably sooner than later with how fast culture moves nowadays. Ready to see the next generation of crypto artists take the helm. It is the artists’ world after all. I also think maybe dead is maybe too pessimistic. We did it. We won. This is a victory. We hoodwinked billionaires into paying us a shit ton of money for jpegs u can right click and save. But like now we sold the grail of grails… where else do we go? That’s the top.xi
Pete: Of course we won. And we’re not done winning. RCSAG wasn’t even the grail of grails. Because there isn’t such a thing, nor could there be. We can keep making more grails until the cows come home. So that’s exactly what we’ll do.xii
Justin: [Where else do we go?] We meme new ones. That’s culture. Every new hit song, movie, or shoe that becomes popular puts way more than $7m in some billionaire’s pocket, yet each year a bunch of new ones come out, and we do it again. The endgame of all of this has to be that the billionaires provide exit liquidity. NFT’s we see this on a micro level many times over. I think it’s not the top, it’s the beginning. It’s cool we if held by an OG but also now OG’s have more scratch to curate culture with. Plus we can all still vibe on it and right click save.
12yr: We’ll bankrupt them with how much art we will create. The artists will rule the world.
Pete: The end game is dankruptcyxiii or all.
All of which just stresses the importance of buying really good art – art that resonates – and ideally with an investment size that we can afford to write down to zero, lest we find out first-hand what “dankrupt” really means… and miss the next wave… because there’s always another wave coming.
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- Right-click was minted Dec-06-2018. So yeah, OG shit, if admittedly only by the standards of this myopic space. It’s been said before but it bears repeating, do we think anyone in 2050 will care whether an artwork was minted in 2018 vs 2021? And if so, will they care enough to mark it up by a factor of 5x? Like fr tho? ↩
- Keep in mind that this was less than 24 hours before 4156 ragequit/performance-art-ed/”dumped” his eponymous Punk Ape for “only” 2500 ETH ($10 mn USD). Yes, those quotation marks on “dumped” and “only” were needed to encapsulate the sentiment of the spoiled-ass-rich-bitch punk holders that day – ashamedly yours truly included on occasion – because indeed, we’ve largely become a bunch of entitled princes/princesses who think that “number go up” always and forever, and not just a little bit either but in gloriously unsustainable leaps and bounds, never to return to the cold hard ground of reality. I dunno about you, but this was at least as much of a wake-up call for me as the 4`200 ETH Alien Punk sale was back in March, but in the other direction. And for that, I’m grateful, even if part of me wonders is my more-sullen-than-usual attitude this week wasn’t also caused by a combination of Miami hangover and still not being over the loss of Virgil. ↩
- I don’t know Andy personally aside from an all-too-brief handshake in NYC last month, but he (and the rest of the hilarious Club Top Shot crew) was probably more important than anyone else in crypto for transitioning me from Top Shot degen to Punks degen. And for that, I’m also very grateful. Look at me being Mr. Appreciative eh… ↩
- Recall, we don’t all get to retire no matter how much we’d like, at least not in the conventional sense of the term. Though per Naval, “Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow” and that thankfully seems pretty bloody attainable even today! ↩
- “Seize the memes of production” is right up there with “Don’t let the institutions steal your jpgs” as 6529’s most quotable lines. Rightly so! ↩
- You’ll recall Justin from my conversation with him vis-a-vis “coolness as patience” from last week’s blog post. ↩
- Pak made history again this week by selling the 312,686-component “The Merge” artwork for $91,806,519 USD (~21,800 ETH) on Nifty Gateway in an impressive. That’s still only ~half the ETH value of Beeple’s First 5000 Days but what can I say at this point other than that now with ETH burning via EIP-1559 and with the network reward set to become deflationary with the Eth2 merge next year, I’m now increasinly open to the prospect that crypto art may not be making as good of a hedge against ETH inflation as I’d originally theorised back in April, because seriously what inflation? Amirite? ↩
- It’s okay, I had to look up Godard and Truffaut too since I’m not a huge movie buff. That was MP‘s thing and turns out the departed giant had something to say about Godard at least. ↩
- This PHASE(!!11!!!!), which implies EVOLUTION, was truly a joy, being as it was mostly populated by blissfully ignorant Geeks and MOPs, and scarce few Sociopaths. But since the late summer, the Sociopaths can – in hindsight at least – be said to be well and truly at our gates, having now crossed our drawbridge and breached the walls of our precious castle. But fear not! Not only are we now simply evolving to a new phase of development, but we need only arm ourselves with, per David Chapman, a light dash of our own sociopathy as immune response. I think we’ll be fine in this regard, we’ve got more of a head start than our challengers realise. ↩
- Aren’t non-verbal means of online communication just the best? We can say SO MUCH with just a gif. Indeed, I’m already getting a bit wistful for the year that was. How did it come and go so fast, despite the time dilation that came with month-after-month of wide-eyed wonderment? Will there ever be another like it? Will I be open-minded and curious enough to participate if/when it does come along? ↩
- Just because Dmitri says something is a “grail of grails,” doesn’t mean that his position is correct indefinitely. He might be correct today, maybe, but investing is also about being correct tomorrow.
The other issue being there’s already like a dozen “Mona Lisa” JPEGs but only one, y’know, painting in the Louvre by that name.↩
- The simple fact that all these crazy prices are being realized BY LIVING ARTISTS is in no way lost on the tradart/tradfi titans standing by-and-large on the sidelines. As you may have noticed, they’re more than happy to pay 9-figs for a Giacometti BECAUSE HE’S FUCKING DEAD AND NOT MAKING ANY MORE WORK, which allows them to all get together and decide what the “best” of his career was and value it accordingly.
Similarly, now that he’s passed away, painful as it is, we can say with some confidence that Virgil‘s wire frame “Framing Collection” furniture, “700% markup” rug, “SS19 LV” ad campaign, and “Cotton” painting were among his finest works, but how the fuck can we honestly say that the best XCOPY or Larva Labs that could ever be, and will ever be, have already been created?
The simple answer is that we can’t.
As it turns out, living artists in their 30’s and 40’s selling artworks for tens and tens of millions of dollars is an entirely different (and arguably more dangerous*) investment proposition. So, when combined with the Cambrian explosion in creativity in the space as well as the very clearly attractive incentives in place for new artists, this is definitely one of the more plausible bear cases for even “blue chip” NFTs when priced in ETH terms. In USD terms, worry not, dear reader, we gonna be swiiiiimmmmmmming in toilet paper, but in ETH terms, which the crypto-native in me badly wants to priviledge but only to the extent that it’s profitable to do so, the road ahead isn’t as clear today**, even if I’m optimistic that there’s a possible future with face-melting fractionalised valuations.
*Admitting, of course, that we can’t have out-sized returns without out-sized risks either, TNSTAAFL.
**And that’s okay! Because to quote Carl Jung: “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” ↩
- That’s another XCOPY reference, obviously. “Dankrupt” is, according to VVD: “rekt but with big bag bags of illiquid cryptoart. DANKRUPT” which seems banal and maybe a bit silly or even excessively dramatic now but “right-click save as guy” must’ve seemed similarly so three long years ago and just look where we are now. So y’see what I mean about grails and even “grails of grails” growing on fucking trees, especially from the freakishly prescient and fertile mind of the great X? So maybe the SuperRare 1/1 Dankrupt will be the “grail of grails” in 2024. It’ll have stiff competition with summer.jpg, to be sure, but isn’t trying to figure that out such a big part of what makes this whole speculative experiment the funnest thing ever? ↩