- A crypto art rendition of the Nyan Cat meme sold for about $590,000 on Friday.
- Crypto art represents a $100 million market and allows digital artists to monetize memes.
- Investors have gambled on digital keepsakes like the Nyan Cat in the past.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
A one-of-a-kind digital rendition of the Nyan Cat meme from 2011 sold for about $590,000 in an online auction on Friday.
Over the past few weeks, online sales of nonfungible tokens, more commonly known as NFTs, have taken off, as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin boomed.
NFT art products — which operate as a type of digital asset or token — have in some instances sold for over $3.5 million a piece, contributing to a crypto art market that is currently valued at over $100 million.
For Chris Torres, the creator of Nyan Cat, the NFT sale represented his first foray into crypto art.
“I’m very surprised with the success, but I think I’m most glad knowing that I’ve basically opened the door to a whole new meme economy in the crypto world,” Torres told Nasdaq.
Torres remastered the original animated GIF for its 10-year anniversary and ran a 24-hour auction on the crypto art platform Foundation on Thursday.
The platform itself had only just launched two weeks prior and allows artists like Torres to continue to profit off their work if a buyer resells the piece later on for further profit.
Bids for the Nyan Cat started at 3 Ether (ETH) or about $1,544.38 and closed at 300 ETH — about $590,000 at the time of the sale.
The majority of crypto art platforms use Ethereum as means of payment. ETH is the second largest cryptocurrency by market value after Bitcoin.
The buyer was anonymous, appearing only as “oxy7eb2…3f6b” on Foundation’s site. The account will likely be the sole owner of the digital meme, as Torres told The Verge he has no plans to sell additional copies of the image in the future.
Despite the sale, the existing Nyan Cat GIF and video will still be available for distribution online. The crypto art sale simply allows the buyer to operate as a collector of sorts — as the owner of a digital piece of art based on a popular meme.
The Nyan Cat meme originated on YouTube and quickly became an internet sensation. The video depicts an animated cartoon cat that has a Pop-Tart for a torso. The video follows the cat as it flies through space, leaving a rainbow trail. The sequence is set to Japanese pop music and currently has over 185 million views on YouTube.
For the sale, Torres remastered the Nyan Cat through minor touch-ups, including removing a star from the animated sequence, according to The Verge.
Crypto art could allow creators to profit off memes
“The creator originally owns it, and then they can sell it and directly monetize and have recognition for their work,” Torres told The Verge.
Nyan Cat is not the first crypto art to sell for a large sum of money. On Sunday, a group of 34 digital collectible pieces of art, called CryptoPunks, sold for over $1 million in ETH, according to CoinDesk. In December, the digital artist Beeple sold an NFT art collection for over $3.5 million.
Investors have gambled on digital products like Nyan Cat in the past. In 2018, 1.5 million people put over $40 million into the digital equivalent of Beanie Babies, CryptoKitties.
Torres, Foundation, and Ethereum.org did not respond in time to comment.