the two faces of cryptocurrency collectors

Erin, who prefers to keep her last name quiet, is not a nerd. This affable 51-year-old brunette lives in an opulent 19th century houseAnd century in Westchester County, a popular New York suburb. In real life, he watches over the historic buildings of Bronxville.

But his passion is now more virtual. Like so many others, Erin was sucked into digital ownership certificates whose authenticity is verified by blockchain technology, better known as “NFT” (non-fungible tokens, “Non-fungible tokens”). Three little letters that have been turning heads for a year. The Chainalysis platform values ​​this cryptocurrency craze at around $ 41 billion (€ 38 billion). Yes, you read “billions” correctly!

For Erin – who actually prefers to be called “Elsie”, her nickname in the crypto world – it all started with the sale, in March 2021, of an NFT by crypto-artist Beeple for 69.3 million. An earthquake. “I thought it cost $ 10,000 to break everything”, rewinds, amazed by the price, but enticed by the prospect of added value. Since then, everything has gone very quickly. In one year, Erin-Elsie bought no less than one hundred NFTs, with a unit value of between $ 1,000 and $ 40,000. The investment? He has to think about it. “I am happy that my collection has already tripled in value”she admits, assuring her that “Do not look at these works as a stock of goods”.

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“These collectors have a real passion, a desire for evangelization mixed with that of profit”, defends specialist Fanny Lakoubay, who recommends Elsie, as well as about fifteen other amateurs. In her eyes, buyers fall into two categories. On the one hand, fans of “Collectibles”these NFTs based on a generative model, without originality, such as the “Bored Apes Yacht Club”, “Pudgy Penguins” or “CryptoPunks”. “They buy NFT as shares, which they resell high or at a loss, if the mayonnaise doesn’t take”, says Fanny Lakoubay.

On the other hand, a community of enthusiasts, that of cryptocurrency buyers. Eyes on Twitter, they like word of mouth, they exchange information on Discord messages and check them feverishly drop (“Put up for sale”) by prominent artists as if their lives were at stake. Their gods are not called Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons, but Hackatao, an Italian duo already legendary in the cryptocurrency planet, Pak, the French collective Obvious or Pascal Boyart (aka PBOY), known for its modern version of the Sistine Chapel.

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