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Memories of Merge: A Look Back at NFTs Two Years After the Record Sale

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Quadri Adejumo
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Memories of Merge: A Look Back at NFTs Two Years After the Record Sale

December 4th echoes in the annals of the art world as a day of remembrance for the record-breaking sale of 'Merge,' a work by the anonymous artist Pak. Two years ago, this piece sold for an astounding $92 million, establishing a new record for a living artist at the time. This event transpired during the zenith of the non-fungible token (NFT) craze.

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From Boom to Bust: The NFT Crash

However, the once feverish enthusiasm for NFTs has experienced a significant decline. According to analytics firm NFT18, NFT art sales dipped by a shocking 99% from a peak of $2.7 billion in January 2021 to a mere $21.7 million in October. The once-trendy digital assets have fallen out of favor, reminiscent of outdated fashion trends. This downturn has led many investors to write off their NFTs or attempt to sell them at a loss. This state of affairs has given rise to a dedicated website, unsellablenfts.com, created to assist collectors in claiming tax deductions for their devalued NFTs.

The Potential of NFTs Beyond the Art World

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Despite this, NFTs still hold potential applications beyond the realm of art. The market, characterized by rapid price surges and dramatic declines, has seen investors capitalize on the volatility, while others have displayed reckless behavior. Certain NFT collections, like the Bored Ape, have seen stunning collapses in value. There remains deep skepticism about the market, but the potential for the future, especially in the digital art world and realms like digital identity and virtual assets, cannot be dismissed.

Signs of Revival and New Applications

The largest NFT marketplace, OpenSea, has witnessed a significant decrease in fees and revenue. However, there are signs of growth in the market, with NFTs being deployed for more than just artwork. Unique applications in ticketing and loyalty programs are emerging. Moreover, OpenSea has hinted at a modest revival in 2023, suggesting that the market may be far from extinguished.

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Art World Embracing NFTs

Despite the volatility of the NFT market, the art world continues to show interest. Case in point: RealNifty and Surfergirl Gallery are set to showcase 'Marina,' an exhibit of female Spanish artists, during Art Basel Miami. This event underscores the importance of recognizing women artists in the industry and indicates a continued interest in NFTs, despite their fluctuating market standing.

As we mark the two-year anniversary of the record-breaking sale of 'Merge,' the art world and investors alike are closely watching the evolution of NFTs. With the potential for new applications and a revival on the horizon, the final chapter on NFTs is far from written.

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