Last week, the artist Ben Mauro was dividing his paychecks into three categories: rent, food, and art. Now, suddenly he’s a multimillionaire.
Mauro, who has created concept art for films including The Hobbit and video games such as Halo, is newly wealthy thanks to the phenomenon of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. These tokens are a type of cryptocurrency, similar to Bitcoin, but each one is unique and can’t be replaced or replicated. They’ve grown popular among digital artists because they serve as certificates of authenticity. In the online world, where anyone can replicate images an infinite number of times, NFTs allow artists to create a stamp of ownership. With ownership comes value.