Nyan Cat is turning 10 years old in April (feel old yet?), and to celebrate the anniversary of one of the internet’s most wholesome memes, the artist behind the gif, Chris Torres, put a newly remastered version up for auction. On Friday, the piece sold for 300 Ether on the crypto art platform Foundation, which translates to roughly $US587,000 ($746,605) based on the cryptocurrency’s value at the time of publication.
In an interview with the Verge, Torres said he doesn’t ever plan to sell another original image file of Nyan Cat, meaning this gif’s patron now owns a truly one-of-a-kind piece.
“I think it’s cool knowing you own the only piece in existence,” he told the outlet. “And I feel like Nyan Cat will be a really special one to own.”
Torres made a series of tweaks and changes to the almost decade-old gif, which included enlarging the gif and making minor touch-ups to the art to correct details that bugged him over the years. For example, one particular star would appear and disappear randomly in the original 12-frame animation, so he took this opportunity to just remove it entirely. Torres told the Verge that he thought the remastered version “turned out really well this time around.”
If your eyebrows shot up at that multi-thousand-dollar price tag, you should know that the crypto art marketplace is having one hell of a moment. A number of online platforms have sprung up in recent years such as SuperRare, Zora, and Nifty Gateway where artists and patrons exchange digital works worth thousands of real-world dollars. Foundation is one of the newest faces on the scene, having launched just two weeks ago, but it’s already reportedly recorded $US410,00 ($52,148) in sales, per the Verge.
These crypto art platforms generally sell works through “non-fungible tokens,” or NFTs, blockchain-based digital tokens that represent unique assets. Since NFTs aren’t divisible and no two are alike, their ownership can be verified and tracked through blockchain. Though it should be noted that on many crypto art platforms, the actual sales, such as that of the new-and-improved Nyan Cat gif, are made with Ether, a cryptocurrency that runs on the Ethereum blockchain and is second only to Bitcoin in terms of market capitalisation and volume, according to Reuters.
The crypto community has been buzzing about NFTs for a while, but traditional branches of the art world have only recently begun embracing blockchain technology. This week, Christie’s famed auction house announced its first-ever auction of a purely NFT-based collection: “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” by Beeple, a digital artist whose NFT-based series of digital works sold for $US3.5 ($4) million in December. Christie’s also confirmed with Bloomberg that it plans to accept Ether as payment for the artwork’s principal price (collectors will still have to use old-fashioned dollars to cover any additional auction house fees).