NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) have been around for a few years, but they’ve really taken off since 2020, becoming one of the most talked-about digital assets for celebrities and blockchain fanatics alike. But what are they, why the big push in recent months — and why are celebrities spending so much on them?
NFTs are unique digital files (usually .jpegs) that show up most often as a piece of digital art or a single, simple image which are stored on one of several blockchains (the digital technology that runs cryptocurrency). The files are used as “proof of ownership,” almost like a digital receipt.
According to Shaeleigh Afton and Amanda Hudson, the Co-Founders of muffmoney, celebrities are often drawn to NFTs due to the status that comes along with owning them. “The same way you would have bought physical art years ago, think Warhols and Basquiats, we’re seeing this happen with a new generation — digitally,” the pair says. “We think NFTs will have a greater impact on how celebrities interact with their fans and their community.”
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some examples of the most expensive NFTs and NFT portfolios we’ve heard of celebrities buying or selling (note: unless otherwise stated, prices are approximate and in USD).
Justin Bieber bought a BAYC NFT for approx. $1.3 million
It seems that Canadian mega-star Justin Bieber has been heavy into NFTs for the last year, focusing mostly on the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). His first purchase with the secretive BAYC was his now-infamous Bored Ape #3001, which he purchased for 500 ETH, or about $1.3 million. Bieber has reportedly gone on to purchase a second BAYC Ape, as well as some smaller NFTs.
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Paris Hilton bought a BAYC NFT for approx. $275,000
Reality star and heiress Paris Hilton has become one of the blockchain’s biggest celebrity endorsers, creating her own NFT in 2019, and herself buying a BAYC for more than a quarter of a million dollars, which she showed off on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Hilton creates and sells her own NFTs as well, raking in over $1.1 million on one of her own designed pieces in 2021.
“We will start to see fans be rewarded through utility and ownership from NFT projects,” Afton and Hudson say, and with Hilton’s NFT collection, that definitely appears to be true.
Alexis Ohanian bought a BAYC NFT for Serena Williams for approx. $330,000
Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit and husband to GOAT Serena Williams, purchased a CryptoPunk NFT of his wife, which he immediately made into a button and he wore on the red carpet for the 2021 Met Gala. Ohanian later bought Williams a pink BAYC. This NFT was purchased for a reported $330,667 at the time.
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Jay-Z sold an NFT at auction for $139,000
Rapper Jay-Z has also gotten into the NFT game. The rapper reportedly purchased a CryptoPunk NFT which he made his Twitter profile picture, and sold an NFT of his first album’s art through Sotheby’s auction house.
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Logan Paul bought a CryptoPunk NFT for approx. $170,000
Logan Paul, who gained fame with his antics on his now-infamous YouTube channel, has also been reported to be a collector of NFTs. In 2021, he said during a podcast that he purchased a CryptoPunk NFT for $170,000.
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Mark Cuban has an NFT portfolio of over $500 million
Financier and team owner Mark Cuban is said to own the biggest NFT portfolio to date, which is reported to total over $500 million. And it makes sense, since Cuban is reported to have a net worth over $4 billion dollars.
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Looking to the future of NFTs
“Celebrities are investing in this space because like any investment, when the market is hot, you put money in it,” the muffmoney team explains.
However, it’s also important to remember how relatively new NFTs are.
Afton and Hudson say they see the future of blockchain moving in a different way than today’s NFT landscape. “The NFT trends we see today, BoredApes and Doodles, will not be how we use the technology in the future. Thinking this expression of NFTs will be the future is like thinking MySpace was going to be what social media ended up becoming in Web 2.0,” they say.
“When you strip everything back — all the noise — ultimately who and what is successful in the NFT space will come down to community and brand.”