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‘Quintessential Example of a Flex’ – JPEG of a Rock Sells for $1.7 Million

According to today’s crop of rich kids, flaunting your wealth through material possessions is sooooooo 2012, man. Although losing much of its initial hype, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have made a triumphant comeback, with a clip art JPEG of a rock recently selling for 400 ether or about AUD$1.7 million for us rookies still using fiat currency.

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The transaction marks the latest sale of EtherRock, a crypto collectible launched in 2017 – making it one of the oldest NFTs in the game. Built and sold on the ethereum blockchain, EtherRock is simply a JPEG of a cartoon rock. With only 100 available, its scarcity has driven up the price tag and led to a huge surge in the market.

Following the most recent sale, the new price floor sits at around USD$1.2 million (AUD$1.65 million). Incredibly, the cheapest rock two days ago was USD$305,294 (AUD$420,000) and two weeks ago; it was USD$97,716 (AUD$135,000). And what inherent value do these magical rocks possess to warrant the cost? Well, according to the EtherRock website, “These virtual rocks serve NO PURPOSE beyond being able to be brought and sold, and giving you a strong sense of pride in being an owner of 1 of the only 100 rocks in the game :)”

The EtherRock project was inspired by the Pet Rock trend from the 1970s, and while most of us may be scratching our heads as to why any sane human being would pay for them, NFT collector Andrew Kang explains that “the ownership of something so utterly useless is a quintessential example of a flex.”

The NFT craze isn’t limited to just wealthy individuals online; even multinational companies are starting to get in on the action. On Monday, payment processing giant Visa announced that it spent USD$150,000 (AUD$206,000) in ether on a CryptoPunk – a trendy digital-based avatar. “Visa’s CryptoPunk purchase is another example of a Fortune 500 racing to incorporate NFTs into their marketing strategy,” said Scott Spiegel, co-founder at BitBasel, a Miami-based blockchain start-up. “Brands such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Pringles have released NFTs of their own, but Visa’s purchase marks the largest investment in the space to date.”

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