Why Did Someone Pay $560,000 for a Picture of My Column?

$98,000.

$143,000.

$277,000.

After greater than 30 bids, the public sale ended at 12:32 p.m. Eastern time, with a winning bid of 350 Ether, or about $560,000. A couple of minutes later, after the public sale platform had taken its lower, practically $500,000 in cryptocurrency landed in my digital pockets. I used to be surprised. Congratulatory texts and media requests began pouring in. My colleagues joked about stiffing the charity and slipping off to the Cayman Islands. My editor stated I shouldn’t anticipate a increase.

The complete ordeal was surreal, and it raised the query: Why would anybody spend the value of a high-end Lamborghini on an image of my phrases? After all, the NFT was only a cryptographic signature linked to a picture of a column that anybody may learn on The Times’s web site, albeit with a number of bonus perks. (I additionally stipulated that I might characteristic the winner’s identify and picture in a follow-up column, and Michael Barbaro, the host of “The Daily,” gamely agreed to throw in a voice message for the winner.)

The winner, whose handle on the auction site was @3fmusic, gave the impression to be a outstanding NFT collector. The profile on the location was linked to a Twitter profile belonging to a Dubai-based music manufacturing firm, and to an Instagram account recognized as that of Farzin Fardin Fard, the corporate’s chief govt. The consumer’s NFT assortment included a wide range of different costly digital works, together with a $14,000 “emoji portrait” of the musician Billie Eilish and a $8,000 piece titled “Jumping Spider enjoying coffee in the morning.”

I reached out to @3fmusic to supply my congratulations on the acquisition and to debate the bid. They (it’s not clear if the winner is Mr. Fard or another particular person or a number of folks) declined to be named — and, due to the pseudonymous nature of blockchain-based transactions, there’s no straightforward approach for me to determine them past the knowledge they volunteered — however they despatched me a press release over Twitter direct message that learn:

“We are already involved in art and media for a long time now,” the message learn. “Our management team is always in cooperation with some highly knowledgeable and experienced art advisers who believe that we must grow with technological movements that help us to not only promote our business but also to support artists and the art market. Thus, we have proudly decided to dedicate sufficient funds and resources to invest in NFT as pioneers of this industry.”

They additionally gave me permission to incorporate a picture of their music studio’s emblem on this column.

Jiannan Ouyang, an NFT collector who dropped out of the public sale after a excessive bid of 290 Ether (about $469,000), instructed me that he had determined to bid on my NFT for each private {and professional} causes. He’s a former Facebook analysis scientist who’s now a blockchain entrepreneur, and he’s married to a journalist.

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