For most artists, NFTs are no cash-cow

·2-min read
Most artists don't actually earn much from NFT sales.

Rarely has an acronym got the art world in such a frenzy. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have quickly gained ground among artists hoping to monetize their digital creations. But while many are now trying their hand in this new market, only few will find success, a new report concludes.

Three months ago, only the tech-savvy of this world had really heard about these unique digital tokens that can be used to attach a certificate of authenticity to any virtual object. Now, NFTs are part of the vocabulary for any digital artist hoping to follow in the footsteps of the American artist, Beeple , whose NFT digital collage sold for $69.3 million at Christie's.

While many artists see the technology as a potential means to a more stable financial future, others, like Kimberly Parker, are more skeptical. The American visual artist set out to determine the average sales price of NFTs on platforms like OpenSea, Nifty Gateway and Superrare. She focused her research on a period of 10 days in March, just after Beeple's record sale, and on Primary Sales -- a frame of analysis that "would give a clear idea of what an artist could expect selling their NFT for the first time," Kimberly Parker explains.

A new El Dorado for artists?

The artist discovered that one third of Primary Sales during this particularly profitable period for NFTs amounted to... $100 or less. A far cry from the unprecedented sum fetched by "Everydays: the First 5,000 Days" at Christie's. More surprisingly, the vast majority of the works sold at auction during her period of analysis sold for less than $700.

And that's not counting the fees that these specialist sites claim on each sale. If your artwork falls into the one third of NFT artworks selling for $100 or less -- then, "for $100, you can expect to have 72.5% - 157.5% of your Sale deducted by fees [depending on the platform]. That's an average(!) of 100.5%, leaving you with a $0.50 deficit or more," outlines Kimberly Parker.

And so, the spectacular NFT sales seem to be the visible tip of a much bigger iceberg, with just a few big names in contemporary art really managing to make any significant amount of money using this new technology. "The majority of artists are being sold a dream of immense profit that is horrifically exaggerated," writes the American artist. In conclusion, the NFT revolution doesn't yet seem to be synonymous with the democratization of wealth in the art world.

Caroline Drzewinski