A Study in NFT — The Adventures of Unlock Homes
On a fine Sunday afternoon, I and Mr Unlock Homes were sitting in our study. Mr Homes — a brilliant detective — had befriended me some time ago. We have been sharing the same apartment ever since then. I am Dr. Wash Ton, a doctor by training. But more recently, I have found popularity by washing tons of Mr Homes’ laundry in public. This is the story of his smartpants washed with the NFT detergent.
This Sunday, we both spotted a person get down from an Uber and ring the bell of our apartment. Had to be a client of Mr Homes. As I stood up to unlock the main door, Homes said, “Please let this professional graphic designer in.” I was surprised at how quickly Homes had deduced about this person. But then, I was not surprised because he was brilliant. And, he was about to share how he could ascertain our visitor’s profession.
“How can you say this guy is a professional graphic designer? Have you met him?” I asked.
“No! But it’s elementary, my dear Wash Ton,” he said. Here it comes, I thought. “He had introduced himself in the email he sent me yesterday”, said Homes.
I opened the door and let the man in. He was in his early twenties. He fist-bumped both of us and introduced himself to me: “Hi. I am Michael Angelo. You must be Dr. Wash Ton.”
Then turned to Mr Homes and gave him a tired smile. Homes asked him to sit down.
“Mr Homes, as you already know I am a graphic designer and have been wanting to explain my problem to you. You are known to have found great solutions to people’s problems,” he said.
“Go ahead. Lay it out”, said Homes.
“I am the world’s top graphic designer. I recently did an abstract digital portrait of my neighbour’s wife, named it Donna Rita. It is a beautiful work of art and I know it will sell for millions of dollars.” said Angelo.
“Let me deduce the problem”, said Homes. Now was the time for brilliance as I waited for Unlock. “The artwork has been stolen!” he said.
“No”, said Angelo. “In the days of physical art, thieves needed to steal. These days, with digital art, they just need to copy-paste.” So my friend was (kind of) right! In fact, in a way he was predicting the crime! Wow! No wonder I was such a fan.
“The problem is that any work of digital art is easily copied.” Angelo continued. “Therefore, I know that when I make it public for auctioning, it will get copied right away and I will not be able to make any money on it. What should I do?” said Angelo.
“Interesting problem”, said Homes. “Let me ask you a few questions before I solve the case for you.”
“When you sell it, am I correct to assume that all rights of ownership of Donna Rita would get transferred to the buyer?”
“Yes”, said Angelo.
“Would you think that the buyer would want the rights to be non-hackable? In other words, would you also want to guarantee to the buyer that the rights to Donna Rita remain with the new owner until he or she decides to sell it?”
“Of course. Without such a guarantee, my art would not have the high value that I hope it would sell for”, said Angelo.
“The solution is NFT”, said Homes.
“NFT? What is NFT?” asked Angelo.
“NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Now before you ask what ‘fungible’ means, it means ‘something that can NOT be replaced’. In Victorian English, you could also call them ‘Non-Fornicable Tokens’. Got it?”
“Got it… got it!” said Angelo. “But how will they solve the problem of copy-paste?”
“Your problem is not copy-paste, Angelo. Everyone in the world photographs different artworks at museums… these photos and their copies does not reduce the value of the actual artwork”, said Homes. “Your real problem is that everyone in the world should acknowledge you as the creator of Donna Rita and its buyer as the new owner. Plus, these rights should be non-fungible or in formal language — non-fornicable”, said Homes.
He was right! My friend was right! And I was right about him being a genius!
“So, how does it work, Mr Homes? Please explain it to me as if I were a layman”, asked Angelo.
“Well you ARE a layman”, said Homes. “The technology behind it is fairly complicated. And truth be told, it is the same technology on which cryptocurrencies like the BitCoin work. But understanding WHAT it does is fairly straightforward.
“What NFT does is it creates a digital ledger of the artwork and its ownership. This ledger records the ownership claim for all eternity. It even registers the new owners every time the artwork is sold. Then it distributes this register all over the internet so that hacking into this register and changing one or two or even a hundred entries will not impact the register.” said Homes. Of course the layman didn’t understand.
“Simply put”, Homes continued, “you are putting this artwork under a lock which has a million keys and a thief will need all the keys together to open the lock. And that there is not enough metal on this planet to make the necessary number of keys, makes this lock unbreakable. Got it?”
“Got it!” exclaimed Angelo! “It is great. Is it easy to change my artwork into an NFT?”
“Of course. It is meant for artists who do not know much technology. There are easy-to-use platforms which make it easy to create an NFT on the artwork and even to auction it. You should check out OpenSea and other platforms like it. People have started creating NFT’s of other types of art like photographs, music, videos, etc. In fact, I think people have gone a bit overboard creating NFT’s.”
“Overboard? How overboard?” I asked. I was curious too!
“NFTs are the latest fad in town. Anyone can create an NFT and many people are. But just because an artwork is converted to an NFT, does not make it valuable. Now you could create an NFT of your child’s first iPad scribble. But just because it is NFT does not make it as expensive as a Picasso. So be careful investing your money in something you do not understand. Understand?”
“Understood”, I said.
Now Unlock Homes turned to Angelo. Let us see this Donna Rita you have been raving about. Angelo took his iPad out.
“You guys are the first few lucky people to ever lay sight on this masterpiece”, said Angelo. “Behold!”
What an arrogant jerk this guy was. But he knew art. As for me, I am not much of an art-lover or an art-understander. As a doctor, I can see beauty in someone’s X-Ray or MRI but could not make head or tail of the purportedly multi-million piece of artwork. I let my friend Homes take a long deep look.
“I will now take your leave and get Donna Rita registered as an NFT. Thank you for your time, Mr Homes!” said Angelo.
“Well Mr Angelo,” said Homes. “Normally, I would call the police to catch a thief but in this case, I don’t need to do anything. The guilty are already punished. The effort they made in stealing has gone down the drain.”
I was surprised. So was Angelo. “What are you saying Mr Homes? Thanks to you, Donna Rita has not been stolen”, he said.
“The artwork you just showed me was created by an Italian graphic designer Leonardo daFilmy. I can say for sure because this is already an NFT and I can show you the ledger of its ownership! Here you go!” Unlock showed him his phone and the ledger showed that Donna Rita was indeed created by daFilmy and was up for auction soon.
Angelo’s lie was caught! He broke down sobbing. “Mr Homes, I am sorry for what I tried to do. I hope you can forgive me. I will never try anything like this again”, he said.
“Angelo”, said Homes, “I know you have talent. I hope you can use it to create great works of art. I hear that they are looking for great graphic artists to create artwork for the website of some chapel at the Vatican City. Why don’t you apply? Maybe you will get that job! Go, make an honest living!”
Angelo stopped sobbing. A new light of hope shone in his eyes. He would go original now and always register his artworks as NFT’s. He would apply to Vatican City right away.
So this is how my friend would Unlock the Home of someone’s closed mind! It was amazing to watch.
Have I previously said I was a fan? Maybe. But I am sure I am a fan!