Investing was once a process that was available only to the wealthiest among us. Eventually, stocks left the trading room floor so that anyone could buy them. The same is true of cryptocurrencies. Crypto used to be a niche product that only those “in the know” bought. Today, anyone can invest in cryptocurrencies far and wide, and the non-fungible token (NFT) has become a massive part of the industry.
While crypto art was once seen as a strange idea that would never offer real value, NFTs are earning billions of dollars for their creators and exchanges. But, which creators are among the best? There are plenty of one-hit wonders out there, but who are some of the best creators, churning out collection after collection and holding a certain name recognition that most artists don’t have.
Michael Joseph Winklemann uses the name Beeple to market and sell NFTs. Active as a graphic designer and animator since 2010, he’s created works such as Everydays: the First 5000 Days. He started in February of 2020 by selling NFTs at ETHDenver and through NiftyGateway.
The collage of images from the Everydays series sold for over $69 million in March of 2021. While this may seem too recent to make a “best of” list, he credits Pak (who we will discuss later) for giving him his first bits of information on NFTs.
Famous auction house Christie’s has even called him “a visionary digital artist at the forefront of NFTs.” This level of praise puts him at the top of the list of the most popular NFT artists, making anything new he creates an instant hit among crypto investors.
He also created a kinetic video sculpture with a dynamic NFT called Human One, which sold for nearly $29 million in November of 2021. At press time, Beeple has sold over $175 million of digital art across over 1300 pieces.
Once known as MuratPak, Pak is an NFT designer and digital artist who is completely anonymous. Over the past 2 decades, this creator has been working in digital media in a variety of guises. Pak also created the AI program known as Architect, which searches the Internet for images that can be shared on social media.
Dating back as far as 2009, Pak has been popular among editors at Vimeo. Plus, Pak also sold the most expensive NFT to date, titled The Merge. While profiting from the NFT market, Pak also questions the ideas of value and ownership in the world of art. He also popularized the idea of an open edition NFT, one that is available for a certain amount of time instead of being limited by the total number of pieces available.
At press time, Pak was the highest-selling NFT creator with over $356 million in sales across over 66,000 pieces.
Xcopy sits at number 3 on the list of the highest-selling NFT creators. As an NFT creator, Xcopy pulls you in with both motion and illustration. Rarely is work from Xcopy static, making it some of the most unique art in the crypto world.
While Xcopy started back in the early days of Tumblr (a platform with a unique financial history all its own,) the artist found crypto art in 2017, selling a piece for 1 ETH to Artnome’s Jason Bailey. XCopy participated in the SuperRare launch in 2018 and was the 2nd artist to ever mint an NFT on that platform.
Work from xCopy has also been featured on KnownOrigin, Async.Art, OpenSea and NiftyGateway. Having sold over $53 million in crypto art across over 1900 pieces, popular pieces include All Time High in the City and Right-click and Save As guy.
Aside from gaining notoriety as Elon Musk’s ex-girlfriend and mother of X Æ A-12, Grimes dove into the NFT market in March of 2021. Given the media’s obvious fascination with her given her association with one of the richest people in the world, Grimes can easily flood the NFT market with new works any time she likes. She’s also a musician who has set NFTs to original music.
When Grimes auctioned her first NFT collection on Nifty Gateway in March of 2021, the sale earned her around $6 million, with the highest-selling piece being a video called Death of the Old. She also created videos called Earth and Mars featuring images of the titular planets and a cherub brandishing a weapon.
Why Collect NFTs?
Collecting NFTs is a simple way to invest in a form of art that is completely digital. Without getting into the machinations of the crypto market, NFTs are sold at a particular value (generally, a certain number of Ethereum) and you can either keep them or sell them again for a higher price.
Just as you would hold a stock or currency until you can sell for a higher price, you can do the same with an NFT. Plus, NFTs might come with the exclusivity of a certain artist, collection or production run. Sure, a one-hit wonder might give you some value because that artist has done little else to garner the spotlight, but a popular NFT creator gives you name recognition, which can make reselling your NFT that much easier.
Not only do NFTs have an assigned and perceived value, but they also have a certain look you might be going for. Yes, you can easily invest in real art—there are even funds or ETFs that allow you to do so—but you can also invest in the unique beauty that you find in a particular NFT design.
At times, NFTs capture moments in time (from sporting events, mainly,) and you might want an NFT that commemorates that exact moment. At press time, the University of Georgia had won the College Football Playoff National Championship not 24 hours before, and there were signed NFTs designed to commemorate the moment and benefit the players.
NFTs and Exposure to the Crypto Market
Let’s say you want to invest but don’t want to idly purchase tokens at their market value. You can purchase NFTs and allow them to mature over time. Yes, the value of a cryptocurrency may be volatile, but the value of an NFT might rise due to sentiment, the artist, etc. You can charge whatever you like for the crypto art you’ve collected, and it might be easier to recover your investment even if the price of Ethereum (the most common token used to price and purchase NFTs) dips.
Compare NFT Marketplaces
Comparing NFT marketplaces is often just as important as finding the best non-fungible token to purchase or your favorite NFT creators. Benzinga has curated a list of the best NFT marketplaces, and you can use this information to open an account in the right place, purchase beautiful NFTs or even create your own.
Bolstering Your Crypto Portfolio
Using NFTs to bolster your crypto portfolio can help you bring a bit of beauty into your world, invest in sought-after items and diversify your investments at the same time. As you wade into the world of NFTs, you can return to Benzinga at any time for more information on cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and crypto art.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most famous NFT marketplace?
The most famous NFT marketplace is OpenSea, founded in 2017 and located in New York City. Anyone can sell crypto art through the OpenSea marketplace, and launches from several of the artists listed above occur on OpenSea every year.
Who created NFT art?
Kevin McCoy. He minted his first NFT on May 3rd, 2014. It was called “Quantum.”
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