Pop culture and crypto-mania caused an overinflated speculative bubble in NFTs

Cocaine is God’s way of telling you that you’re making too much money, said comedian Robin Williams once. Non-fungible tokens, a blockchain-based method to claim ownership of easily copied digital assets, may have supplanted this role as a means of claiming unique ownership.

It has been reported that great sums of money are being spent on the latest NFT mania, called “Bored Apes”: 10,000 avatars depicting bored-looking cartoon apes. Earlier this month, rapper Eminem (real name Marshall Mathers) bought a khaki and gold chain called EminApe for US$450,000 using Ethereum cryptocurrency. In addition to its alleged inclusion in the rapper’s collection, it is purported to join more than 160 other NFTs.

It appears that the Bored Ape character is inspired by Jamie Hewlett’s drawing of Tank Girl and the Gorillaz virtual band. Creators claim that each variant is based on over 170 possible traits including expressions, headgear, clothing, and more. Apparently, every ape is unique, however, some are rarer than others.

Buying the NFT is a mistake or a good judgment?

So what is Eminem now owning? A digital image is available for him to use as his Twitter profile picture. Of course, anyone can use the image by copying it from the internet. There are no differences except for the fact he has a blockchain record that shows he bought it. The “Bored Ape Yacht Club” also allows him to be a member. An online space whose terms and conditions remain unclear beyond serving as a marketing gimmick. That’s basically all that’s there. Intellectual property remains the property of the creator. Merchandising revenue from the character is not his to keep. Only a “greater fool” would be willing to purchase the NFT for even more than he paid for it.

The odds are against it. Despite publicity from the rapper’s purchase certainly driving up demand, the average price paid for Bored Ape NFTs in 2022 has been about 83 Ethers (currently about US$280,000). Obviously, Eminem would pay much more for a model that looks more like him, but would anyone else do it?

NFTs are an extremely speculative purchase. Proof of ownership is a prerequisite for establishing the market. But only as a means to prove bragging rights and to stand a chance of selling NFT in the future. Celebrity culture and tawdry collectibles collide in NFT mania, arguably combining the worst of collectibles and blockchain markets

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