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AP rides NFT gravy train

News wire service, Associated Press (AP), will auction 10 digital artworks that are representations of iconic photos captured over the agency’s 175 year history.

The auction is still open for bids!

The AP’s first auction for its 10 non-fungible tokens (NFT), a hyped up new digital asset unit stored on blockchain technology and bought with cryptocurrency, is a short video using Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image, Raising the flag on Iwo Jima. The highest bid, since expired, was a whopping US$30,000 – or to be more precise 11.96 Ethereum.

Much like cryptocurrency, the NFT craze jumped from a fringe online movement to mainstream when crypto bros made fortunes from auctioning digital art pieces as NFTs.

And also like cryptocurrency, the NFT market place is divisive. One argument by NFT detractors is that because NFTs are digital and don’t physically exist, they have no real value. Supporters may respond by pointing out that money is now mostly digital, or simply plastic paper, and only has value because we collectively assign value to it, so why can’t an NFT?

The NFT creator ‘mints’ as many tokens they choose onto the blockchain, and it’s then limited to that number. There is nothing stopping others from saving the NFT as a digital file, such as a JPEG, or minting the same art work into another NFT on another block chain. Although this may – or may not, as these are indeed strange times – be considered a cheap knock-off of the original NFT. Just like some physical art works are mass re-produced as cheap’n’nasty ‘wall art’.

The AP is clearly an NFT supporter, or at least plans on riding the hype. Especially after selling its first digital art piece in auction for 100 Etheruem, roughly US$180K, in March. That NFT is an illustration by digital artist, Marko Stanojevic, and shows the US from space with the states coloured red or blue to represent the recent election results.

Stanojevic is the artist behind the AP’s latest NFT venture. Raising The Flag On IWO Jima: AP ArtiFact 1. AP describes his work as ‘breathing digital life’ into Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning image, ‘with an interpretation that offers collectors a historically important work of art’.

‘Set to an original score by violinist and composer Nick Kennerly, the NFT includes a number of rarely seen images taken by Rosenthal; a rare, digital version of the first print produced from his negative; and Iwo Jima film and audio from the AP Corporate Archives.’

Stanojevic’s digital re-imagining of the photo is a bit like an introduction for a low-budget WWII TV documentary series. The AP is auctioning its NFT’s through OpenSea, which allows bidders to place bids with Ethereum with an expiration date. The highest bid of over US$30K seems overpriced, especially considering a print of Rosenthal’s photo with three known copies sold for US$30K in 2019. Other prints have valuations of less than US$10K.

However the AP let the highest bid expire, so it’s still up for grabs!

Click here to check it out.

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