NFT.NYC, the international NFT (non-fungible tokens) industry conference, has kicked off in New York this week. There were more than 30 categories at the second annual NFT Awards in areas including visual arts, gaming and fashion.
“Our event has always been about community, and that’s why we have 1,500 speakers,” explained Jodee Rich, one of the founders of NFT.NYC, during the opening panel. “When we’re asked about putting celebrities on stage, you are the celebrities. We actually say no to real celebrities more than we say yes because we really want this to be an event about people who are passionate about NFTs.”
‘Best Traditional Artist turned NFT Artist’ was won by Takashi Murakami, the Japanese contemporary artist whose work blurs the boundary between fine and commercial art. Beeple was named ‘Best Established NFT Artist’ after setting a new world record for digital art in 2021 when his collection ‘Everydays: The First 5,000 Days’ sold for US$69 million (£56 million) at Christie’s. ‘Best NFT Artist’ was awarded to the London-based XCOPY, who creates looping digital illustrations that delve into themes of death, dystopia, and apathy.
Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), the unique digital collectibles, won four categories: ‘Top Collection by Sales Volume’, ‘Top Collectibles Collection by Volume’, ‘Most Innovative NFT Project’ and ‘Best NFT Business Model’. Founded in April 2021, BAYC amassed US$2 billion (£1.6 billion) in all-time sales in only one year.
More than 15,000 people attended the conference this year, increasing by more than 5,000 people compared to 2021. Despite NFT.NYC’s strong attendance, the crypto market has continued to plunge since the beginning of the year. Bitcoin and Ether have both lost more than 70 percent of their value since November, whilst funding for NFT projects continue to drop.
Amongst the most prominent crypto-critics, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently commented that NFTs are “100 percent based on greater fool theory. Obviously, expensive digital images of monkeys are going to improve the world immensely.” Yet David Pakman, a vice-chairman with CoinFund, still has faith in the industry. “You hear about the crash, the crypto crisis, that it was all fraud, that this was just a Ponzi scheme,” said Pakman. “Of course, none of those statements are true, though yes, there are bad actors in every new ecosystem, but crypto and NFTs in particular show a decisive amount of activity despite the fall in asset prices in the past six months. We haven’t hit zero yet—it’s not over.”