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Photo: Jonas Goldstein
Photo: Jonas Goldstein

Minting Takes Manhattan: An NFT Gallery Sells Millions Even Before the Art Is Made

Welcome to the “Ellis Island of the Metaverse.”

Dec. 11, 2021 6:00 AM PST

The art was worth at least $7 million, and it hadn’t even been created yet.

It was the opening night of non-fungible token artist Tyler Hobbs’ show “Incomplete Control” at the Bright Moments gallery in Soho. The gallery, lit by candles and LCD screens, hosted a crowd of about 100 crypto influencers, venture capitalists and traditional art connoisseurs. They sipped champagne while waiting to see if their tickets were worth it; they had all prepaid anywhere from $120,000 to $400,000 to acquire a Hobbs original.

Throughout the night, each of the ticket holders would be escorted to the elevator (wallpapered with mantras like “you can’t spell culture without cult” and “fear kills growth”) and led to a gray cement basement. Using their own laptop, they’d “mint” their own Hobbs original, spinning the artist’s code into a one-of-a-kind NFT. At around 8:15 p.m., the works of art would be unveiled one by one on screens around the gallery—not just to the buyer, but to the artist as well.

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