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Still from Urs Fischer's CHAOS #1 Human, 2021. Photo: Urs Fischer.
Still from Urs Fischer's CHAOS #1 Human, 2021. Photo: Urs Fischer.

After Strong Start, NFT Prices Sink by 70 Percent

Following a number of high-dollar sales earlier this year—most notably the Christie’s-hosted $69.3 million sale of Beeple’s Everydays—The First 5000 Days, 2021, in early March—the market for NFT (nonfungible token) art has slumped by 70 percent in the past month, Artnet News reports. Sales dipped from $19.3 million during the second week of March (the Christie’s sale notwithstanding, as the auction house was not included in the cited report by market tracker to $5.5 million over the past week.

“It’s whiplash,” Robert Norton, CEO and cofounder of NFT art company Verisart, told the publication. “The froth and excitement wasn’t sustainable at the levels we saw in February and March.”

NFTs—possession of which grants the purchaser access to a work, typically a GIF or JPEG, via a highly secure network known as a blockchain and offers proof of both the work’s authenticity and the buyer’s ownership—have opened a new market, especially for works by artists who have never had gallery or museum shows. Works by legacy artists, such as Urs Fischer or Shepard Fairey, have to date failed to command the sums fetched by those by hitherto art-world outsiders, including WhisBe and Chris Torres. Fischer’s CHAOS #1 Human, 2021, for example, brought in roughly $98,000, while WhisBe’s Not Forgotten, But Gone, 2021, reaped nearly $1 million.

“The positive aspect around this frenzy of speculation is that more people are talking about art than ever before and it’s bringing new people into the art market, and creating new types of art,” Norton said. “My only concern is that conversation is less about the art and more about the transaction.”

Indeed much of the interest surrounding NFTs has been generated by their buyers, who have typically amassed their fortunes through cryptocurrency and who in some cases are bidding for works as a way of lending the platform legitimacy. For NFT works’ values to be sustained, the type must continue to generate interest. At present this seems likely to happen, as storied auction houses Sotheby’s and Phillips are both following Christie’s into the market, with mega-galleries like Pace reportedly not far behind. points out that an average NFT cost $142 in October 2020, compared with roughly $1,400 in the first week of April. “Let’s not cry out too soon,” reads the site. “NFTs still have a bright future in front of them!”