LONDON, April 19 (Reuters) – What do you do with a $69 million artwork that doesn’t physically exist?
That’s the question faced by the Singapore-based investor calling himself Metakovan, who made headlines last month when he bought the digital artwork “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” by the American artist Beeple at Christie’s.
The work is a non-fungible token (NFT) – a new type of virtual asset that has its ownership status and authenticity verified by blockchain. NFTs have exploded in popularity in 2021, with prices skyrocketing.
Metakovan, real name Vignesh Sundaresan, plans to put the artwork on display in four virtual world environments. He is working with architects to design gallery complexes that the public can enter via web browsers or virtual reality technology.
But art is just one part of a new economy of blockchain-based virtual worlds where land, buildings, avatars and even names can be bought and sold as NFTs, often fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars. In these environments, referred to as the metaverse, people can wander around with friends, visit virtual buildings and attend virtual events.
Metakovan’s plans are an ambitious undertaking, but he says he is the world’s biggest NFT investor. His collection of NFTs and other crypto assets, the Metapurse fund, is valued at $189 million, according to NonFungible.com, a site that aggregates sales history data from NFT marketplaces.
“The current Cambrian explosion of NFTs that you see is all about acquisition – people want to buy up NFTs, gobble as many of them as they can,” said Anand Venkateswaran, aka Twobadour, who runs the Metapurse fund with Metakovan.