He is 12 years old, resides in the United Kingdom and this summer he has earned 290,000 pounds sterling, almost 340,000 euros at the current exchange rate Benyamin Ahmed, a kind of computer genius who learned to write code at the age of five, produced during his holidays a collection of digital images that he christened Weird Whales and sold them for that amount as tokens non-expendable (NFT). Its story is the latest success story of the NFT fever, digital products that are bought and sold and whose originality is certified by technology blockchain, a trend that has been fueled by the explosion of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Ben’s work is composed of a set of 3,350 whales made as variations by way of meme of a cetacean similar to the one in the Minecraft video game and was sold thanks to the promotion that the minor made in a thread on Twitter, on a LinkedIn page and on his YouTube channel. His work went viral during his school holidays. The money came later and according to the minor’s family told the newspaper The Guardian, Ben will store his earnings in Ethereum, the same cryptocurrency that was used to sell the whale’s artwork.
How can something digital become unique? The file, in this case each whale, is stamped with a unique digital signature that is preserved on a blockchain. That snippet of code can be bought and sold and the property is registered. In this way it becomes a unique, original object as if it were a painting or a sculpture.
“I chose whales because in cryptocurrency a whale is someone with 1,000 bitcoins,” Ben explained to The Guardian. “People connected with my story because I am very young, people saw it, connected to it and it spread everywhere,” he adds. His father, Inram, assured that in this case the buyers, more than the artistic value of the work, have valued the historical importance of the case. “Imagine the value of an original book written by a 12-year-old boy that went viral when the printing press was invented,” he explained to the British newspaper.
Both Benyami and his brother Yousef learned to write computer code from a very young age, encouraged by their father, who is a software developer in the financial sector. “My advice to other kids who might want to get into this space is don’t feel compelled to code maybe because peers pressure you. Whether you like to cook or if you like to dance, do your best, “said Ben in a statement collected by the BBC.
NFTs have become the big crypto trend of the moment since artist Beeple sold a digital file as NFT for € 57 million in mid-March this year. That same month, Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, sold the first tweet in history for $ 2.5 million. As in Ben’s case, NFTs allow works of art to become a certificate of digital ownership, which can be bought and sold.
They were not unique cases. A New York Times article on technology was sold at the end of March for almost half a million euros. The American rock band Kings of Leon has published a limited edition of their latest album online and the video game company Atari has launched a casino with classic games, while the NBA actively promotes its limited edition collectibles called Top Shot Moments. The NFT fever is growing by leaps and bounds as cryptocurrencies try to find, or create, their place in the financial world.
Proponents of this emerging digital aesthetic say the future is already there. They are artists who break with the gallery system to promote their careers from digital platforms and reach collectors much more immediately. For others everything is a gigantic speculative bubble that will burst at any moment as happened with the famous tulip crisis in the 17th century in the Netherlands.
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