What did you do when you were 12 years old? In his spare time, student Benyamin Ahmed, who lives in London, likes to learn programming. And this unusual hobby for his age made him enter the world of NFTs. His digital arts project, “Weird Whales”, has caught on with collectors in recent weeks — and has already fattened his wallet by at least R$1.8 million.
“Weird Whales” is nothing but a collection of 3,350 pixel whale emojis, programmed by Benyamin himself in 8-bit style. None of them are the same: each sticker has unique characteristics that can significantly change its value.
In an interview with CNBC, the young student said that the motivation to create the stickers came from his taste for Minecraft — and for whales, of course. The entire collection, launched in July, cost around R$1500 (US$300) to produce. And the most curious thing is that, nine hours after the launch, these whales were already exhausted.
The initial sale brought in R$1.3 million. As Benyamin receives a commission of 2.5% of the value each time one of his arts changes hands, his turnover is already around R$1.8 million.
By the end of August, according to CNBC’s project, the young person should add earnings that exceed R$ 2 million. Whoever bought their NFTs, after all, only sells them for good money. In the tweet below, made by Benyamin last week, there is a list of the most expensive whales at the time.
— Benyamin | benoni.eth (@ObiWanBenoni) July 21, 2021
With the popularity of Benyamin on the rise, the values for the purchase of the stickers became even more salty. This simple blue whale with tennis headband, which you can check on this link, for example, is already worth a trifle of R$ 66,480.
Interestingly, like the overwhelming majority of children his age, Benyamin does not have a bank account. It’s not necessary: NFT moves, after all, happen on the blockchain, using the Ethereum cryptocurrency.
In case you are lost (or isolated in a cave for the past few months) and have no idea what the NFTs are, here’s a quick explanation. The acronym defines the Non Fungible Tokens (or non-fungible tokens, in Portuguese).
Right away, two strange concepts emerge: tokens and fungibility. Tokens are digital ownership certificates that guarantee that something belongs to a person — and that person alone. On the other hand, fungibility is the capacity that something has to be exchanged for something else of the same value.
Physical money, for example, is a fungible good: you can exchange a R$10 bill for two R$5. Now, a rare collector’s item — like a shirt autographed by Pelé — is a non-fungible good. No other shirt can match that one, because the value is subjective.
Buying an NFT does not mean having the right to unlock access to a .jpeg or receive an exclusive video. Much less if the owner has the copyright or ownership of that thing. Several items sold in NFT format, in fact, are available for the general public to access — like this Nyan Cat GIF, for example, which came to be sold in NFT format for as little as R$3 million. Basically, what these certificates do is ensure that the owner can associate their name with something. Just to say that you bought that and be able to flaunt it to everyone.
Since digital contracts are recorded on the blockchain, there is no way for anyone to wrongfully claim ownership. The owner of the token can even sell his right to someone else. That’s how the NFT market turns — and what makes certain limited-production items more or less rare.
Strange? Well, not for everyone.
All this talk sounded like music for the digital art market, which started to tokenize productions that didn’t have an organized market before. With this, NFTs have started to move astronomical figures in recent months in the hands of collectors full of money, who are not afraid to spend exorbitant amounts to earn the right to say they own something.
How long will the fad last and how far the values of NFTs can go are questions that no one can answer for sure. Digital artists — and programming enthusiasts like Benyamin Ahmed — thank you.