James Bond and Tigers and NFTs, Oh My… | by Justin Roberti | The Capital | Jun, 2021
Interviews with Pierce Brosnan and “Tiger King” Joe Exotic and leaders in the NFT space.
Sales of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) may have dropped between May and June 2021, but celebrities, brands, and creators continue to jump into the fray to digitize new assets.
This week, CNN began selling moments from history and Mattel has rolled into the scene with the first-ever Hot Wheels® NFT Series. As though to illustrate the variety in notable people entering the space, artist, producer, and former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan has announced a new NFT collection titled BIG NOISE while “The Tiger King” Joe Exotic launched his first NFT series of collectibles on June 15th from federal prison in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Brosnan is an established painter with NFTs that allude to work he created while filming his first James Bond film “GoldenEye” in 1995. The BIG NOISE NFT series is available to preview on LGND.art and will officially launch on Father’s Day, June 20th at 8 PM.
Brosnan answered a few questions concerning his new interest in NFTs. First among them, is his interest in NFTs a new one?
“I have never traded in NFTs nor have I owned one, up till now, my very own one,” Brosnan said.
For Brosnan, the interest in NFTs started with his son.
“My son, Paris, is very interested in cryptocurrency and follows what’s happening in NFTs. He’s the one who got me interested in exploring the space as a new way to connect with people through art,” Brosnan said.
Citing his influences as Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, and Kandinsky, Brosnan favors artists that challenge traditional forms, so we asked him his thoughts on NFTs as a new way to impact audiences. The dapper actor and artist is bullish on the potential of NFTs for artists.
“NFTs are a fascinating advancement in the way an artist can interact with and grow their audience. They provide an opportunity to directly offer your work to anyone, anywhere in the world, instantly. This could be someone in Zimbabwe, or Indiana, or Ireland — it levels the playing field and gives everyone full, unfettered access. The idea that people can own authenticated pieces of digital art that are always linked to the creator is groundbreaking, especially considering that works sold later, on the secondary market, will still be linked to the creator, with compensation automatically distributed,” Brosnan said.
As an avid supporter of the arts, Brosnan looks to a future where NFTs create new potential for artists of all kinds.
“It’s a brand new digital world out there! Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and blockchain technology, in general, have so much potential when it comes to art, film, and entertainment. We can’t predict the future, but we can choose a future that is supportive of the arts by leveraging these world-changing technologies to give artists and their communities new opportunities to connect…,” Brosnan said.
Joe Exotic of “Tiger King,” is throwing his hat into the NFT ring — along with his pistol, jacket, leather pants, a bikini once worn by Rachel Starr, and many other collectibles seen in the popular docuseries as well as smaller collectibles Exotic worked on while serving time. They are for sale by auction on MORE and purchases will include 3-D renderings next to real-life tangible collectibles from the show.
Benzinga was able to ask a few questions of Joe Exotic through his lawyer. We asked how this NFT venture came about.
“My team came to me with the idea of launching an NFT so I started learning more about it and coming up with ways this could be fun for fans. When I realized NFTs would let me reach my loyal fans, I jumped at the idea. Now, people from all over the world can own a piece of the Joe Exotic,” Exotic said.
This is Exotic’s first series of NFTs, but he has been interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency for some time.
“… I’m really interested in the crypto space and have been for quite some time now. Excited that I get to continue my legacy while in prison through the blockchain. I’ve definitely got laser eyes. Crypto is the future.”
When asked if he had anything to add, Exotic’s response was simple:
“I’m innocent and thank you for your support,” Exotic said.
Peter Klamka, MORE CEO and Founder said,
“There’s no better way to engage the mainstream in blockchain technology than to tie in familiar faces and names. Joe Exotic is America’s favorite meme and anomaly; I’m extremely excited to be working with him and his team on this project to keep his story alive while he remains in prison.”
“I hope whoever purchases my favorite belongings is able to give them a well-deserved home. Being able to auction off collectibles makes me feel connected with the outside world, especially without my cats by my side. Whether you love me or hate me for what you think I’ve done, there’s no doubt that everyone wants a piece of The Tiger King!,” Exotic said in a statement.
Are NFTs misunderstood?
With so many notable individuals, brands, and creators releasing new and familiar reimagined work as NFTs, the sense of excitement continues regardless of price activity.
However, the popularity raises the question — do retail buyers fully comprehend what they are buying? NFTs can be a digital representation of virtually anything including digital property and real-world assets, but the variety can contribute to some misunderstandings.
Bill Inman, Co-Lead of BitAngels LA, and Entrepreneur & Advisor for emerging tech said, “I think most consumers don’t understand what NFT’s are, and why they are valuable. They see digital art as something completely new and don’t understand that as we move into a more digital society, how these pieces of art will be valuable in everything from virtual worlds to digital screens in their own home. I think the biggest misunderstanding of consumer ambassadors is that they don’t know what they are, how to buy them and their value in the future.”
Arguably, part of the appeal of NFTs is the extreme range of value — from the value of the Eth used to make them to Beeple’s digital art that famously sold at Christie’s for over $69 million. But how is the value determined?
“The biggest misunderstanding consumers have regarding NFTs is where value is derived. Often, it is theorized that an artist can just make an NFT of their work and cash in, but in reality, there are several factors that go into whether or not an NFT has value. Most NFTs have value simply because the artist who creates them has a following of users willing to pay for the content — and this content is simply created in a new digital medium. Think of an NFT as a new type of digital canvas with provable digital scarcity. It’s an improvement over past digital mediums.” Joseph Fiscella, CTO at nft.org and PIN Network lead developer said.
David Packham, Co-Founder/CEO of Chintai challenged the one fact that most seem to cite first and most evident about an NFT — that it is non-fungible.
“A major problem I see is the concept of NFT “series” where for example they are a limited series of 50 or 100 “limited edition” versions of the same NFT. By that very definition they are fungible, just a low supply fungible token. Most people don’t quite seem to understand that NFT’s are intended to be truly unique, like one property vs another, or one piece of antique furniture, or a painting, or a certificate of authenticity for example,” Packham said.
Dino Lewkowicz, Director at 4ARTechnologies AG pointed out that NFTs are hard to define as an asset class — but buyers should be aware of what they are buying, and not buying, along with their NFTs.
“(The biggest misconception is that) all NFTs contain the ownership rights to the connected asset. This is purely an assumption, as the entailed rights or contents purchased with an NFT are rarely declared. An NFT is just a standardized vehicle, its contents are not standardized,” Lewkowicz said.
Are NFTs cryptocurrency adjacent?
It’s easy to naturally associate NFTs with cryptocurrency since both are blockchain-based, exchanges are rushing to create marketplaces to sell NFTs and many projects are working with both crypto and NFTs, but clearly an NFT lacks the central role of a currency. So, do they really belong in the same “family?”
“It’s issued on a blockchain so should be thought of as a blockchain-based digital asset, but strictly speaking no… A non-fungible asset cannot be swapped for another asset with the same properties. Cryptocurrency on the other hand is a fungible token, therefore one unit is identical to another,” Oliver Gale, CEO of Panther Protocol said.
Sylvia Jablonski, Chief Investment Officer with Defiance ETFs, concurred saying,
“A common misconception is that NFTs are a type of cryptocurrency. The similarities between crypto and NFTs are that they both have a stored digital record on a blockchain. The similarities end there. With NFTs, each token has a unique value and cannot be exchanged for another of equal value. With cryptocurrency, the value and transparency are more obvious; you can exchange one Bitcoin for another, for example.”
However, opinions are divided on the nature of this blockchain cousin to crypto and regulators’ opinions may not be consistent with project leaders.
“Today there is somehow an automatic presumption that NFTs do not fall under any regulatory purview. That’s incorrect. NFTs may fall in whole or in part under securities, commodities, money transmission, AML, and other federal and state regulatory purview,” Felix Shipkevich, Special Professor of Law and Founder of Shipkevich PLLC said. “The non-fungible aspect alone does not change the substance that this is a digital token that contains value as an asset or a medium of exchange.”
Beyond the concerns of lawmakers, even blockchain leaders differ over the shades of definition for the popular form of digital asset.
Nick Emmons, the co-founder and CEO of Upshot, which does crowdsourced NFT appraisals, said,
“I think NFTs should be thought of as in the same family as cryptocurrencies. NFTs being transferrable assets on public blockchains makes them some sort of cryptocurrency, albeit, the classification does become somewhat abstract.”
But ultimately, there is a difference — however nebulous — between a cryptocurrency and a crypto asset.
“NFTs are crypto-assets. They’re not crypto-currencies because they can’t be defined as a currency, they can’t be a medium of account, and they don’t solve the coincidence of needs problem. However, NFTs can be used as part of a cryptocurrency system, as collateral, or as assets parked in DeFi (decentralized finance) systems,” Fiscella said.
Are NFTs a Bigger Innovation than Crypto?
NFT art and collectibles have greatly increased the popularity of this form of digital asset in 2021 — it’s easy to conflate NFTs with the art, music, videos, and famous faces they are often used to represent. However, NFTs have the ability to link to virtually any kind of asset — a feature so flexible it raises the question of where NFTs brightest future lies.
“Ownership is already a concept we all recognize daily — such as a share certificate that then has moved to digital and are no longer paper issued, or deeds to a property. Where NFT’s are innovative is in terms of enabling this concept to be extended to potentially anything of value in society — and made liquid in terms of it being easily tradeable,” Packham said.
Packham indicated that use cases likely to be explored that may supersede art and collectibles include “embedding of additional utility, or utility across multiple ecosystems — one digital asset could have totally different properties across multiple games in a wider ecosystem and be transferable — and enhancing the related tokenomics such as passive income opportunities from NFT’s being enabling them to be leased.”
Since cryptocurrency is useful in matters relating to currency — but NFTs can be applied to all forms of property, it raises the question of whether NFTs could potentially have use cases more encompassing than crypto.
“Absolutely, (NFTs could be) possibly bigger in some cases. NFT ownership is unique in such a way that people can earn passive income from certain ones, for example owning a fraction of a home (or the whole home for that matter). NFTs also provide provenance that cannot be tampered with thanks to blockchain technology. This provides a whole new level of transparency and security for buyers and sellers,” Ben Leff, COO of Sheesha Finance said.
NFT use cases are so diverse and open-ended in terms of application, art, and celebrity-driven collectibles may only be scratching the surface on the potential.
“NFT use cases have been expanding since their inception, it goes much further than just art. Major web browsers like Brave and Opera are now resolving blockchain domain names on behalf of 500 million internet users, enabling NFTs to act as identifiers for decentralized websites. At Unstoppable Domains, we’ve minted more than 800,000 NFTs with practical use cases,” Matthew Gould, Founder and CEO of Unstoppable Domains said.
NFTs are fundamentally more like a receipt than currency — but blockchain leaders see value in the data that NFTs allow developers to track.
“I think the most important part of NFTs is indexing and metadata tagging. There’s a huge opportunity to create a decentralized network for an NFT search engine, which is what we’re building into public index network (PIN),” Fiscella said.
What about the diminishing sales in NFTs and the corresponding drop in prices? Respondents believe we are still at the beginning of a long-term NFT cycle.
“All markets go through cycles and the NFT market appears to be stabilizing after experiencing a speculative run-up. It is more complex than diminishing hype, it is the natural movement of a market as it matures. We have only scratched the surface of finding ways non-fungible tokens can be used to create value,” Trey Zeluff, Director of Digital Assets and Strategy at Fertitta Entertainment said.
It is impossible to understand cryptocurrency without considering the nature of currency as a concept. Similarly, NFTs raise new questions about what ownership represents and how far that ownership extends. This isn’t the first time a new technology has raised these questions. For example, audio cassettes and digital file downloads provoked the recording industry to set new clearer standards around fair use of music files, which individuals may buy, enjoy, and share — but not reproduce and redistribute.
New formats for sharing content always raise new questions about use, transfer, and ownership. For crypto enthusiasts, NFTs are a wild card with obvious long-term potential. For others outside the community, it is an entry into crypto — an all-singing, all-dancing introduction that has attracted new retail buyers, including those more interested in art, music, games, and collectibles than in the constant exchange of money.
Where innovations with NFTs will lead is hard to predict — but in 2021 they have become the second most known thing on blockchain, so whatever direction the innovation takes, they are worth keeping an eye on.
Article first appeared in Benzinga.