Take a look inside the NFT boom in Southeast Asia’s art world
NFTs are booming in Asia despite all the negatives surrounding the phenomenon. Crystal Lee looks at the rise of this blockchain-powered novel asset class in the region with art insiders Emi Eu, George Galanakis and David Tng.
2021 was, undisputedly, the year of NFTs. Notwithstanding the rampant controversies – climate irresponsibility, scams and thefts – the market for non-fungible tokens hit US$41 billion in December, with a gamut of industries from fashion to entertainment selling and utilising the technology for a smorgasbord of digital products (virtual accessories) and purposes (club membership).
But nowhere are NFTs as pervasive as in the art world, even in Southeast Asia. Ever since Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5,000 Days sold for a whopping US$69 million at Christie’s in March last year, cryptoart has exploded online and permeated our consciousness like never before. In 2021, digital artists including Pak, Tyler Hobbs and Xcopy shot to fame with headline- grabbing NFT sales that rival the global fine art market.
Museums, galleries and art fairs also got in on the trend: The British Museum partnered with French startup LaCollection to create NFT versions of some of its artworks; Art Basel Miami held an exhibition that allowed visitors to mint their own NFTs; while international mega-gallery Pace launched a dedicated NFT platform called Pace Verso in July 2021 to show and sell the works of blockchain artists.
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