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The Untold Story of the NFT Boom


“It’s at 40.7 ETH,” FEWOCiOUS gasped. “That’s crazy.”


It was not quite 4 in the afternoon, and Victor Langlois, an 18-year-old cryptoartist, was at his desktop computer, watching a frenzied bidding war between two art collectors. Langlois — known by his art name FEWOCiOUS, or Fewo, to his friends and fans — was dressed in a white hoodie that he had designed, its arms covered in his own psychedelic art, including an eyeball and sunflower afloat in a blue sky. The room’s window had been covered with cardboard to keep things dark, and a string of blue LED lights shone down from the ceiling. As the numbers rose, Langlois nervously pulled his beanie off and on, running his hands through his poofy black hair.


The bidding war began a day earlier, on Feb. 7, on the auction site SuperRare, when an art collector called @thegreatmando1 offered Langlois 15 ETH for his digital painting “The Sailor.” ETH is short for Ether, a cryptocurrency much like Bitcoin. A single unit of Ether can be worth a lot: The day of the auction, 1 ETH was equal to $1,600. That meant @thegreatmando1 had offered $24,000 for Langlois’s artwork. But the sum jumped when another bidder, @yeahyeah, offered 18 ETH, or roughly $33,000. The two bidders pushed the price up and up, until by noon it reached $67,905.92.


Langlois was initially unaware of this remarkable news. He had slept in, after a long evening hunched over his iPad making more art. He only scrambled to check the bidding when a fellow artist pinged him: “Guess who got a $60,000 bid?”


When I dropped by his Seattle home, it was midafternoon, there were two hours left to go and bidding for “The Sailor” was at $75,000. Langlois was on Twitter talking to other digital artists, who were excitedly cheering him on. “1 HOUR & 30 MINUTES LEFT! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” he posted.


Langlois has an earnest, almost unsettlingly sweet affect; that’s a conscious choice, he told me. (“I decided that because I had this upbringing where people were really mean, I was going to be the nicest person I could be.”) As he watched the bids onscreen, he giggled nervously. “I can’t believe this,” he said. A year ago, he was a broke high school student, living unhappily in his grandparents’ house in Las Vegas, where his grandmother would peek into his bedroom and, he says, dismiss his huge pile of acrylic paintings and colored-marker drawings as “ugly.”


Langlois has an earnest, almost unsettlingly sweet affect; that’s a conscious choice, he told me. (“I decided that because I had this upbringing where people were really mean, I was going to be the nicest person I could be.”) As he watched the bids onscreen, he giggled nervously. “I can’t believe this,” he said. A year ago, he was a broke high school student, living unhappily in his grandparents’ house in Las Vegas, where his grandmother would peek into his bedroom and, he says, dismiss his huge pile of acrylic paintings and colored-marker drawings as “ugly.”

Read More at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/12/magazine/nft-art-crypto.html

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