Break out the cryptocurrency and let the bidding begin.
On Valentine’s Day, bidding opens for three non-fungible tokens (NFTs) sponsored by a Des Moines-based art gallery and digital marketing company with proceeds benefiting a Clive non-profit organization.
California-based artist Betsy Enzensberger created three NFTs that include “automated loops of colorful particles colliding to form a whimsical popsicle,” according to a statement from Happy Medium, a social and digital media agency. The NFTs are on display at Liz Lidgett Gallery & Design at 111 E. Grand Ave., Suite 110.
Bidding for each of the three NFTs starts at 0.0325 ETH or $100.49 on Monday at 8 a.m. through Feb. 21 on OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace.
Enzensberger will receive a percentage of the profits and the rest will be donated to Count the Kicks, a stillbirth prevention campaign that provides educational resources to health-care providers and expecting parents, according to the organization’s website.
“These are beautiful pieces by a well established artist and it’s going for a great cause so I’m hoping that people find NFTs can actually be very affordable to get into if you’re interested either in art or investing in art,” Lidgett said.
Non-fungible tokens are essentially data that certifies ownership of a digital item or image through blockchain, a database that can track and certify ownership of assets and digital code. NFTs are primarily part of the Ethereum, a cryptocurrency like bitcoin or dogecoin, blockchain.
Recently, NFTs have taken over the art world to the tune of millions of dollars.
One of the most expensive NFTs sold was by Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, whose digital work of art called “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” went for $69 million. While the artwork can easily be found online, the buyer of the NFT owns the token proving possession of the original artwork’s code.
Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, Reese Witherspoon and Jimmy Fallon heavily invested in a variety of NFTs, often updating profile pictures on Twitter and other social media websites with digital artwork they purchased.
“Sometimes people ask, ‘Well can you just take a screenshot of it and say you own the artwork?’ Technically yes, but it doesn’t have the blockchain associated with it,” Lidgett said. “So it’s the same way that if you went to the Louvre and took a photo on your phone of the ‘Mona Lisa,’ you don’t own the ‘Mona Lisa.’”
Katie Patterson, founder and CEO of Happy Medium, said the NFTs are a way for the digital marketing agency to celebrate more than a decade in Des Moines after being unable commemorate the company’s anniversary in 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“This year around our 11th anniversary we wanted to do a few special things,” Patterson said. “It’s our job to stay at the forefront of all things digital. Being leaders in the digital space, first in wins. I’m not hearing about it much here locally in the state but I am aware of how much of a presence it’s become in the tech space.”
Former Iowa Hawkeyes basketball player Luke Garza became the first college athlete to create an NFT in 2021. His virtual trading card with highlights of his record-breaking college career at Iowa sold for $41,141. He donated a portion of the proceeds to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.