As a one-of-a-kind piece of crypto art, Nyan Cat meme art sells for over $600,000

In April, the great meme turns 10 years
As a one-of-a-kind piece of crypto art, Nyan Cat meme art sells for over $600,000

Nyan Cat turns 10 this year, and to mark the occasion, a one-of-a-kind edition of the iconic GIF is going up for auction. Chris Torres, the artist behind Nyan Cat, has remastered the original animation and will be selling it through the crypto art platform Foundation.

Crypto art has been growing in popularity over the past few years, and there are now a number of digital marketplaces — SuperRare, including Zora, and Nifty Gateway — where collectors can buy and sell digital works. 

Buyers of these works get the privilege of “owning” a piece of digital art — to the limited extent one can really own an endlessly reproducible image file. Artwork typically comes with a license that allows the buyer to display them for personal use on, say, a social media page, another digital marketplace, in a game world, or in a virtual museum. The artists generally maintain all intellectual and creative rights to the works.

Pieces of crypto art are generally sold through “non-fungible tokens,” or NFTs, which are unique digital tokens that live on a blockchain and verify ownership of a piece. Digital artworks can be resold, and in some cases — like on Foundation — artists continue to get a cut of future sales. That means, like so much else involving the blockchain, there’s also an element of investment and speculation when purchasing crypto art since you may be able to resell a work for profit down the road.

There are some drawbacks to crypto art — particularly when it comes to energy consumption. Like bitcoin, NFTs are powered by inefficient computer processes designed to validate data. Ethereum, which most crypto art platforms rely on, is much more efficient than bitcoin, but even its creator has called the system “a huge waste of resources.” Ethereum is still in the process of whittling down its energy usage to a far tinier footprint.

Foundation is one of the newest entrants to the crypto art space. It launched just two weeks ago, and it’s already facilitated more than $410,000 in sales. (Though, like many crypto art platforms, sales are actually made with the cryptocurrency Ether.)