Recapping the evolution of the NFT in Singapore, from toasted bread .jpegs to multi-million-dollar art sales
Singapore has accepted blockchain technology with open arms in recent years. As a result, it’s no wonder that the country has seen some of the most interesting NFT breakthroughs.
NFTs swept the world by storm at the start of 2021, despite the fact that they’d been floating about the internet since 2014. Over the course of the year, they sold roughly $20 billion worth of merchandise. In comparison to 2020, this was a more than 20,000% rise.
In fact, in 2021, the single greatest NFT purchase — worth US$69.7 million — was worth more than half of the previous year’s total sales.
Investors poured money into the sector as a result of its remarkable expansion. NFTs have gone from being seen as a vehicle for internet memes to being viewed as a treasure of untapped potential.
More firms appear to be exploring this ever-changing arena as 2022 begins to gain its foothold. Here are the significant NFT advancements from the past year that indicate what lies ahead for Singapore’s metaverse future.
A Singaporean entrepreneur paid $69.7 million for Beeple NFT
When NFTs finally broke through and took over mainstream media in March 2021, it was a watershed moment.
Beeple, a digital artist, auctioned an NFT collage comprised of 5,000 of his works. He began the endeavour in 2007 and dedicated himself to making a new work of art every day.
‘Every day’s — the first 5,000 days,’ the finished product, was sold for US$69.7 million. As a result, it became the most valuable piece of digital art ever auctioned.
The buyer elected to expose himself soon after the purchase, despite the fact that he was anonymous at the time of purchase. Vignesh Sundaresan, a Singapore-based entrepreneur, told CNBC that he bought the NFT because it will be a significant piece of art history. If it had been necessary, he would have bid much higher.
The sale of the Beeple NFT was widely publicized, paving the stage for NFTs to become the global phenomenon that they are today.
Shopping mall closures are compensated for via NFT marketplaces
Despite the fact that physical stores and shopping malls were forced to close due to the epidemic, NFT marketplaces thrived.
Mintable, a Singapore-based NFT marketplace, raised US$13 million in Series A funding in July 2021. Mark Cuban, a billionaire entrepreneur and NBA franchise owner, as well as Ripple Labs, the startup behind the XRP cryptocurrency, and MetaPurse, an NFT investment vehicle founded by Vignesh Sundaresan, were among the investors (the one who bought the Beeple NFT).
Since then, Mintable has collaborated with firms like BAPE and CNBC to offer NFTs. Along with NFL quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the highest-selling NFT collection on the platform was published, which sold for roughly US$230,000.
Brytehall was a Singapore-based NFT platform that launched in 2021. It was founded with the intention of bringing high-end art and fashion into the metaverse.
In December, the site held its inaugural auction in collaboration with Specialized, an American cycling business. ‘Onishi-E: The Living Bicycle’ was sold for $50,000 in the United States.
Brytehall, which was founded by the creators of Media Publishares, was also in charge of releasing NFT collections by Vogue and Esquire in Singapore.
ARC, an elite digital community formed by Kiat Lin, the son of Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim, is the newest addition to Singapore’s NFT scene. In the near future, ARC hopes to establish its own copy of the metaverse.
Singapore’s first large-scale NFT exhibition is held at a Freeport
Coinhako, a Singaporean crypto exchange, partnered up with Appetite, a research centre, to host the country’s first NFT exhibition in November 2021.
Right-Click + Save was the title, and it alluded to everyone’s initial suspicion of NFTs: “Buy a.jpeg? “However, I could just right-click and save.”
Through landmark works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Beeple, and Refik Anadol, the show explored the evolution of digital art and NFT culture.
Right-Click + Save was hosted at Le Freeport as a deliberate irony.
Freeport is a highly secure storage facility that facilitates the trading of high-value items such as art and jewellery. They exist as special economic zones that are exempt from standard tax and customs regulations. Money laundering claims have frequently been levelled against these facilities.
Similar objections have been levelled at NFTs as well. Sceptics have often dismissed NFTs as money laundering instruments because their value is purely subjective and their benefit isn’t always obvious.
Print media ensures that it will continue to exist indefinitely
After spending so much time writing about NFTs, Singaporean media outlets couldn’t help but cash in on the trend.
Vogue Singapore announced a collection of 40,000 mystery boxes on Binance in August 2021. Each box contained one of ten different artworks picturing an astronaut touring a famous city, each costing $20.
The entire collection sold out in less than 24 hours, making it one of Binance’s fastest mystery box sales ever.
Vogue Singapore returned to NFTs later in the year with a collection featuring pieces by notable designers such as Shavonne Wong and Chad Knight. An exclusive collaboration with luxury fashion label Balmain was also featured in the collection.
Separately, The Straits Times’ inaugural NFT collection generated over US$15,000 for charity. The graphic of a Straits Times column titled ‘Own a piece of the metaverse’ was used in the highest-priced auction.
A work named ‘The Permanence of Cats’ was also included in the collection, which was a parody of Salvador Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory,’ with all the watches replaced by cats.
In collaboration with The Dematerialised, Esquire Singapore jumped on the NFT bandwagon at the end of the year. Tobyato, a Singaporean artist, produced an NFT sneaker collection for the lifestyle magazine. The rarest of the NFT sneakers were sold alongside actual counterparts to explore physical concepts in the metaverse.
Local artists find a new creative outlet
Singapore’s artists had a very difficult year in 2021. A poll conducted by Milieu Insight at the height of the pandemic demonstrated how highly the country valued artistic endeavours.
It turned out that there wasn’t much. The job of an artist, according to 71% of respondents, is the least important of all. As firms went through a time of slump, those in creative roles were among the first to be laid off.
NFTs gave an opportunity for certain creators to continue pursuing their passions.
Chanel Lee, a Singaporean artist, left the corporate sector to launch her own NFT line, which includes 7,600 toasted bread artworks.
Alan Seng quit a computer start-up to establish digital trading cards with art student Marc Yap. Within the first hour of its release, their ‘Dark Zodiac’ collection had garnered over $1 million in sales.
Shavonne Wong, a fashion photographer, started selling her 3D work as NFTs in 2021 and made over US$60,000 in sales.
Is it safe to say that NFTs are here to stay?
It’s difficult to picture a $40 billion industry going away suddenly. NFTs have endured the wrath of doubters in the past year and emerged unhurt.
The value of these tokens has expanded beyond that of collectable art. NFTs are being used as virtual real estate, governance tools, and vouchers.
It’s difficult to forecast the future of such a dynamic region, or what form NFTs will take next, but it’s safe to assume they’ll be there for a long time.