Two weeks ago, Saturday Night Live ran a sketch about NFTs involving Pete Davidson and the rapper Jack Harlow. Ack!
Last night, an NFT of the NFT sketch (really, a ten-second video clip and associated token) sold for 171.99 ETH, or around $365,000.
NFTs are non-fungible tokens—a kind of cryptocurrency that can be attached to a file and auctioned off as proof of ownership. The market for these digital collectibles exploded in February, as artists made millions off JPEGs and GIFs, though there are signs the hype is beginning to die down. At the height of the boom (bubble?) a digital artist named Beeple sold an image for $69 million through Christie’s.
Someone called “Dr_Dumpling” snagged SNL’s NFT, which entitles them not only to the token itself, but also to two tickets for a live SNL taping. So far, Dr_Dumpling has yet to re-list the NFT on the secondary market.
Some have hailed NFTs as a progressive, democratic force in an art market that’s rigged in favor of the biggest players; others question the logic of spending $69 million on an image file, and say NFTs will only deepen economic inequality.
There’s also an ecological question, since most NFTs are built on the Ethereum blockchain, which uses the energy-intensive proof-of-work consensus mechanism. As transactions mount, so does the energy cost.
VCs remain undeterred, for now: OpenSea, the crypto art marketplace where SNL auctioned off its NFT, raised $23 million in Series A financing last month.
And while other companies like The New York Times, Taco Bell, and Charmin have all given away their NFT earnings to charities, NBC hasn’t said what it plans to do with the $365,000—maybe Lorne could use the money.