“After Andy Warhol died, his work was not worth anything,” says Les Borsai, co-founder of Wave Financial, a $1 billion-plus crypto asset manager, citing the American painter as an example of how patient art collectors can make money over time. Borsai is actively looking for acquisitions in the non-fungible token (NFT) space following the asset class’s recent implosion.
“I didn’t sell a single NFT,” he continues. “I am a collector and as a collector, the race is not over in a matter of months or a couple of years.”
He insists the market for unique physical or digital items, such as collectible artworks, Metaverse (or virtual reality) real-estate, continues to hold a promise for discerning investors willing to take time to curate the best investments. Despite the collapse of the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s collection of monkey JPGs wrapped into NFTs, unlike Borsai’s #4206 and #3281 apes are still commanding a hefty price tag, others who have plummeted alongside bitcoin’s slide in this year’s tech selloff.
“I took the time to find the rarest [apes] for the cheapest price,” adds Borsai, claiming that he also made “hundreds of thousands” from air drops linked to the items.
Not everyone, of course, has done well in this niche corner of the crypto wild west.
The NFT market – which roughly a year ago commanded billions as speculators traded artworks, sports cards and gaming characters linked to the Metaverse – is now worth a fraction of what it was when artist Beeple sold his ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ collage for a whopping $69 million in March 2021.
Sales at top marketplace OpenSea (which just announced big layoffs) recent monthly sales are down roughly 50%, with the average price of their listed NFTs dropping by nearly 40%, according to DappRadar. Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market’s value has halved in 2022 to nearly $1.2 trillion, according to Coinmarketcap.com, as bitcoin and ethereum, the currency that powers NFTs, have taken a big tumble.
And the pain could continue for some time, at least according to a recent MLIV Pulse Survey of 950 investors in which 60% believe bitcoin is more likely to plunge into $10,000 than hit $30,000. Yet Borsai continues to see value.
Gaming holds promise
Echoing others who see a bright future in play-to-earn gaming, he likes Gala Games, which allows musicians such as Snoop Dogg (a major NFT collector himself) and Ice Cube to sell their works as NFTs in the decentralized blockchain. RTFKT or Artifact, a design community behind CloneX (a collection of 20,000 algorithmically-generated metaverse NFT characters) is also a favorite. Artifact recently teamed with Nike (NKE) to design a rare digital sneaker that change hands for $130,000 and featured a colorway by famous artist Takashi Murakami.
“Across the value chain, platforms are being bridged together,” Borsai continues. “If you look at future verticals, they will impact media, gaming, film, sports and fashion just like iPhone apps and mobile apps touched every industry.”
Joe Samo, founder of crypto law firm Samo Law Group, says it will take a while for NFTs to recover with only those bringing true value likely to survive.
“They are going to stick around but I don’t think they will have the same hoopla,” he says. He sees promise in the intellectual rights protection NFTs confer as digital authenticity certificates backed by blockchain technology, however.
“I can prove I have an original art piece with an NFT, regardless of how much it moves around,” he says. “That is a unique technological value.”
Some gaming NFTs, which allow users to own player avatars or skins and profit from their future use, will also thrive. “People who are into gaming are really into gaming,” he says. “My kids spend a lot of time and money on games. They love the space and will do anything for it.”
Despite their potential, the biggest play-to-earn project to hit the crypto sphere in recent times, Axie Infinity, hit the dust this year with its AXS coin now trading at $18 after peaking at nearly $100 in January.
Ed Moya, a senior analyst at foreign exchange trader Oanda, says the space could recoup its fortunes once (and if) the crypto market stabilizes and global recessionary fears ease. A tech rally in the second half, hinged on the prospect that the Fed will ease rate hikes to stem inflation, could also help draw cash back into the market. But this time investors will likely trade more carefully to choose the right projects.
Moya agrees gaming stands to grow with a lot of cash and innovation strongly being channeled into the space. “The future of gaming could be tied to NFTs,” he says. “You are going to see a lot of efforts to try to capitalize on that.”
According to Moya, NFT’s “never ending revenue stream” will also keep the asset class afloat. “Every time you sell an NFT, the original creator gets a portion back of their original investment,” he says. “That type of potential profit is going to intensify which is why developers are going to want to make NFT-powered games.”
One such project is Grand Theft Auto, a leading action-adventure game which sixth edition is expected to allow players to use bitcoin to earn and trade rewards.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.