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Unpacking the ideas and trends shaping Asia’s future
 
What is crypto art, how did it come about and why are people willing to pay millions for it? Let’s take a Deep Dive.

🦄 Before blockchain technology existed, the idea of one-of-a-kind digital art was oxymoronic. The cost of copying a piece of digital art as many times as you wanted was—and still can be—zero. 

🧐 With the rise of blockchain, an immutable digital ledger, non-fungible tokens—or NFTs—could be created. This, in turn, has allowed us to verify the ownership, authenticity and uniqueness of any digital art. 

🖼️ An NFT is a relatively new type of digital collectible item that can take any form, from a gif to a song to your very first tweet. It's unique, so it can’t be replicated or replaced, which explains why NFT crypto art pieces are now being sold for millions
"The bustling trades of NFTs encourage more creation of digital arts and goods in general, which is lovely. But the regulations are not offering any consumer protection to NFT users. There have been many cases of NFT thefts, which can be attributed generally to how a blockchain functions, where you, as a user, are responsible for your assets—you are your own bank! Watch out also for fake NFTs issued against stolen digital art!"
2015 The first NFTs were reportedly created in 2015 and were Ethereum-based, as are most NFTs today.

US$700,000 A digital artwork by humanoid robot Sophia, which was created by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, was auctioned off as an NFT for nearly US$700,000.  

US$23 million OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces, recently raised US$23 million in a new funding round. 

211kg London-based artist Memo Atken estimates that on average, one NFT could be responsible for 211kg of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to driving a petrol car for 1,000km.
A one-of-a-kind JPEG collage by digital artist Beeple earned the title of most expensive crypto art to have ever been sold at auction last month. What was the winning bid?

A. US$35.3 million
B. US$69.3 million
C. US$93.3 million

Scroll to the bottom of the email for the answer.
Photos: Matthew Followill and RCA Records
In March, American rock band Kings of Leon became the first-ever band to release an album as an NFT. Their eighth studio album, When You See Yourself, has since made more than US$2 million, part of which has been donated to the Crew Nation charitable fund, which supports concert crews during the Covid-19 pandemic.
👺 The con artists have arrived. Some artists are being caught by surprise when they realise that someone has stolen their identity in an attempt to sell their works as NFTs.

🗣️ Critics say some crypto art buyers may be driven by the "thrill" of it all. As the rich continue to pay millions for NFTs, some experts speculate that they might be motivated by the need to have bragging rights more than the desire to own a rare piece of art.

👾 Some of the first digital collectibles are pixellated punks. They are 24×24 pixel art images called Cryptopunks created by Matt Hall and John Watkinson, the co-founders of game studio Larva Labs.

🛒 Even the artist behind the record-breaking NFT sale says it's a bubble. Beeple, whose digital artwork was sold to a Singapore-based entrepreneur for
US$69.3 million worth of Ethereum, has converted his earnings to USD in fear of the cryptocurrency's volatility. 
The Wall Street Journal describes how NFTs work, why they are causing a digital art buying craze and the concerns that critics have about them. 
Mark Cuban
The American billionaire entrepreneur and investor has been an active supporter of the NFT market, having funded several online platforms including the Singapore-headquartered marketplace Mintable. He has also developed his own online art platform, Lazy, to allow people to display their NFTs.
Stanley Chen
Stanley Chen is breaking literary barriers with a new digital art form: AI-generated stories. His award-winning novels tread a tightrope between sci-fi and social realism, discussing issues from pollution to patriarchy through an emotional lens.
In February, we launched a community-led initiative called Gen.T Connect to enable young leaders to drive meaningful conversations and change using our platform. 

On April 10, our first Gen.T Connect session is taking place at Tatler House in Shanghai. Organised by our Shanghai ambassador Jill Tang, the afternoon will feature a panel discussion, workshop and Lego Serious Play session, all of which will discuss mindfulness leadership.

If you’d like to attend, scan the QR code above or click here to register.
Most of us were following the news about the cargo ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal last week. An entrepreneur by the name of Tom Neil even went so far as to track the ship's progress on a new webpage, Is The Ship Still Stuck? Of course, the ship is no longer stuck, but you can remember the moment forever by bidding for the NFT of Neil’s page on OpenSea.  
That’s it for this issue. Have a productive week!

This issue of the Deep Dive was written by Chong Seow Wei, with design and illustration by Francesca Gamboa.

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The answer to the quiz is B (US$69.3 million).
© 2021 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved. All material is © TatlerAsia.com.
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