NFTs and Crypto Art Have Completely Taken Over Miami’s Art Basel

Over the past year, NFTs have shattered the art world’s doors, elevating previously unknown artists such as Beeple, pplpleaser, and FEWOCiOUS to celebrity status and garnering headlines with the multimillion-dollar sales of CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, and Art Blocks.

The response from the broader art world has been divided so far. While renowned organisations such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s have eagerly welcomed NFTs and prominent artists such as Damien Hirst have dabbled with them, many in the art world remain suspicious.

The art world, on the other hand, can no longer ignore NFTs—at least not if their invasion of Art Basel Miami is any indication.

This year, the crypto community flocked to the city to exhibit their work, network with athletes, art dealers, well-known artists and singers, and interact with industry-leading galleries and institutions. The frenzy surrounding NFTs in Miami was in stark contrast to their understated appearance at London Art Week just a few months before.

During Art Basel, Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, debuted his genesis NFT collection. Ulbricht is presently serving more than two life terms in a Florida jail for his involvement in the site.

The work, which included paintings created while incarcerated, poems, and an animation depicting jail life, was distributed with the help and aid of SuperRare and was curated by Entoptic. The NFTs were quickly acquired by the newly founded FreeRossDAO, which was formed to “liberate Ross, progress jail reform, and share Ross’s work with the world, providing everyone with an unprecedented chance to own a piece of it.”

Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’s mother, believes that her son’s NFT will serve as a reminder to the world of the accomplishments of digital entrepreneurs, including those who sometimes violate the letter of the law. “My son believed in the notion of non-aggression in free engagement,” she said to Decrypt. “I believe that by pursuing my son to such an extreme, the government has made him a scapegoat for their fear of Bitcoin.”

However, in Miami, even noble social initiatives were accompanied with a party. Meanwhile, Pitbull performed at a party thrown by OneOf, a Tezos-powered music NFT platform. And during Gary Vaynerchuk and Coinbase’s “Probably Nothing” party, images of trendy NFTs such as Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, Cool Cats, and Doodles adorned the digital wall displays as Marshmello performed a DJ set.

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