Remember the cute flying cat GIF with a Pop-Tart body and a rainbow? The famous GIF known as Nyan Cat has officially entered the NFT universe. On February 19, 2021, Nyan Cat NFT was officially sold at an online auction at a fantastic price. What turned this cute digital cat into an expensive NFT art? What is the meaning of this news for the future of NFT in the meme world?
To understand more about this meme phenomenon, we need to look back at the history of Nyan Cat and its NFT.
Nyan Cat doesn’t always look like its current form that we know. The original doodle was posted on April 2, 2011, as a GIF by Christopher Torres to his website, LOL-Comics. According to Torres, he doodled Nyan Cat when drawing for a Red Cross charity livestream, combining the figures of cat and Pop-Tart based on his followers’ suggestions. The cat was inspired by his own cat, Marty, a gray Russian Blue.
At first, Nyan Cat was known as Pop-Tart Cat. It later gained popularity when a YouTube user posted it as a video, merging the cat with a vocal by Hatsune Miku, who repeatedly sang “nya” (the sound for a cat’s meow in Japanese) in a bright pop melody. Once the image became popular, Torres changed the name to Nyan Cat.
Nyan Cat NFT, as its name suggests, is the remastered version of the GIF into NFT. The NFT GIF was launched on February 18, 2021, on a crypto platform and sold in a limited-time auction.
As the original creator of Nyan Cat GIF, Christopher Torres is also the person behind the creation of Nyan Cat NFT. He launched the cat’s NFT version for the 10th anniversary of his famous meme. The launch also marked his first participation in the growing NFT market, the same industry that has attracted so many old and new digital artists.
Torres opened the Nyan Cat NFT for auction within a 24-hour window limit. His chosen platform, Foundation, is a new blockchain marketplace that had been only operating for two weeks before he uploaded the meme. The NFT finally went to an anonymous user, which marked them as the sole owner of that exact digital copy.
The meme went through some upgrades and remastering before Torres uploaded it as an exclusive NFT. Aside from touching up the quality, Torres also removed elements such as a random star that appeared out of nowhere. The remastering process added value to this NFT, making it unique because it is not identical to the original GIF.
In a 2021 interview with Jackson Weimer from Forbes, Christopher Torres gave more detailed explanations about his decision to sell Nyan Cat NFT and the trend in general.
When inquired about his decision to auction Nyan Cat NFT after the huge crypto market drop, Torres said that the nature of NFT has always been volatile, like stocks. After many people had hyped the trend so much, the huge drop happened, making them more afraid to invest when the market dropped. After the original auction, he supported his opinion with the massive selling of more Nyan Cat NFTs.
Torres also explained the development of memes and their future potential. According to him, current memes are way more intricate than the old ones. Memes have developed into their own cultures instead of simple jokes in visual formats. Meme formats display sophisticated humor, social criticisms, parodies, and news. Their constant presence in the online sphere makes people decide to put a value on them.
Finally, Torres is optimistic that people will find more ways to mint NFT more cleanly. While not excusing the possible nft environmental impact, Torres emphasized how artists are not the ones responsible, and they need the foray into new technology to stay relevant and earn more efficiently. He also thinks that memes will be excellent sources of income in the blockchain market, especially since everyone loves them and can contribute to this system.
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The original Nyan Cat GIF reached fantastic values when auctioned. When the auction opened at 1 PM ET, the initial bidding was 3 Ethereum, or about USD1,544 at that time. The auction window was open for 24 hours, with more enthusiastic bidders coming.
When the auction window was closed for good, the Pop-Tart cat was sold for 300 Ethereum. This number equals about USD590,000 at that time. According to Torres, despite the slow start, the bidding process became more aggressive with time, showing how popular this “breakfast cat” meme is even after ten years.
Despite the high popularity and value of Nyan Cat, there was not much to know about the buyer. Like many online auctions or nft marketplace transactions, the buyer was anonymous. During the auction on the Foundation website, the buyer appeared with the nickname oxy7eb2 … 3f6b.
The anonymous account is now the sole owner of that specific Nyan Cat NFT. This is because Christopher Torres only auctioned one exclusive version of the GIF. However, the ownership does not stop Nyan Cat GIF and video from being distributed online. The current NFT owner simply owns the original digital version of that exclusive GIF, and they are free to sell and monetize it.
The NFT version of Nyan Cat GIF is not the only big blockchain project Torres started. This year, Nyan Cat saw itself reborn as a cryptocurrency. While still being developed, there are possibilities that the Nyan Cat coin will soon enter Binance. Christopher Torres also produced other products outside the exclusive NFT. While he is being careful about projects, Torres has worked with Youtooz, turning the iconic meme into figurines.
Nyan Cat is not the only internet culture piece sold at a high price as an NFT. However, its spectacular re release as NFT proved that memes and other internet culture products have potential in the blockchain market. The adorable Nyan Cat NFT and other similar products should encourage anyone interested in exploring the growing market of NFT arts.