Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, April 19, 2021
I owe it all to Kevin Roose, a writer at the New York Times.
In late March, Roose decided to offer one of his columns, specifically the column he was writing to explain NFTs, known as nonfungible tokens, to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to charity. OK, what is an NFT?
Let’s use Roose’s definition: “An NFT, in layman’s terms, is a new kind of digital collectible item that is stamped with a unique bit of code that serves as a permanent record of its authenticity and is stored on a blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underlies Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.”
The NFT market is hot and delightfully irrational. Roose writes that an artist named Beeple sold “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” a tokenized collection of his art for $69 million at an online auction at Christie’s. No misprint there.ADVERTISING
Roose goes on to explain that to make his column a true NFT, he had to jump through some hoops. He had to set up a digital wallet, create a unique cryptographic signature, pay a “gas tax,” and generate some code. You get the idea; this is not for the faint of heart. As to hoops, yours truly, can’t jump, but the idea of creating art from a column about NFTs struck me as a worthy effort.
Besides getting the token, the winning bidder would get an image of his column in PNG format (don’t ask). The auction was going to run for 24 hours and the Neediest Cases nonprofit in New York City would get the dough — if there were any.
Roose set the minimum bid at approximately $800 or 0.5 Ether. Now remember the buyer of the NFT gets the absolute original, has the authenticity of the column and in that way, it is like the 715th home run ball by Hank Aaron. But unlike the ball, anyone can go to the website of the New York Times and read the Roose column as many times as they want. Yes, while you own the digital original, anyone else can go to the website and read it. Someone will need to explain that to me in due course.
NFTs are beginning to play a role in the case of artists, musicians, creative people in all fields. They offer collectors distinct ownership, and the creator retains the possibility of getting paid royalties, instead of one and done, and being taken advantage of by middlemen, social media outlets and the legal fees trying to enforce your copyright.
So, I am not Kevin Roose, but have I got a deal for you?
While I cannot make this column a true NFT, I have a proposal. I will offer this column, printed on quality paper, beautifully framed and signed by me, to the highest bidder. All monies, with no gas tax, will be split between Jewish Family Service of San Diego and South Bay Community Services.
It will be a non-digital signature in blue ink (unfortunately, not Picasso), and it will be my best poor-man’s attempt at an NFT. You will have the only signed copy. Roose also provided perks to sweeten the deal, so me, too. Lunch for four, outside at Piatti’s in La Jolla Shores.
Unfortunately, I cannot create a true auction, but you can bid by sending your offer to me at the email below. This column will run Monday, April 19. The bidding will stay open until 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 25. That afternoon, I will call the three highest bidders and give them a “best and final” chance to bid.ADVERTISEMENT
The minimum bid is $250. No Ether or Bitcoins, sorry. Coin of the realm for now. If no one bids, I will personally double the offer to $500 and split it between the two charities.
Oh, I thought you would never ask. The Roose column sold for $560,000. The buyer declined to be identified. You may elect that as well.
Lastly, the fine print on taxes. I am going to make it easy for my readers. If you win, you split the checks directly to the two charities, it is tax-deductible to you, and I do not have to pay my CPA to explain NFT to the IRS.
Rule No. 663: NFT or NFW – you decideADVERTISEMENT
Senturia is a serial entrepreneur who invests in early-stage technology companies. Hear his weekly podcast on innovation and entrepreneurship at www.imthereforyoubaby.com. Please email ideas to Neil at [email protected].