INNOVATION OF THE WEEK
Unlocking Luxury Travel with NFTs
A Miami-based couple are looking to revolutionize travel with an NFT-based hotel membership concept that opens for First Phase minting next week. An initial group of 30 holders will have the right to 4 nights in Costa Rican paradise, with full memberships launching in January 2023 that guarantee 6 nights per year - with the option to resell those nights on the secondary market. Gratitude Hotels is part of a wider movement to tokenize the travel industry, transforming the traditionally inflexible world of flight and hotel bookings and offering profit-making opportunities.
At present, there is one hotel site in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, with expansion plans in the works. The hotels will cater to NFT-native audiences with presentations of NFT art and community-building. The first batch of memberships will be available for 2 ETH.
Sources: Gratitude Hotels
NEW PRODUCTS & IDEAS
#1: Beeple, IRL!
Pioneering NFT artist Beeple is making major onboarding moves by building a digital art studio in Charleston, South Carolina. He has taken over a giant warehouse, which he explains will be “an outlet for not just my artwork, but the entire digital art/NFT community”. The aptly named Beeple Studios will host exhibitions and experiences of digital art in the hope of reaching new audiences. In Beeple’s own words “that is precisely what we need to move past this bear market.”
In his October 13th Twitter announcement, the artist echoed the sentiments of many when he stated “now is the time to BUILD.”
#2: Avalanche hits OpenSea
OpenSea has added support for its 7th blockchain: Avalanche, a proof-of-stake blockchain with low NFT volumes compared to Ethereum and Solana. According to data from CryptoSlam, in September 2022 25,000 transactions were conducted on Avalanche by 4,488 users, with a total volume of $2.4M.
OpenSea’s Shiva Rajaraman spoke to TechCrunch about this latest addition and emphasised that “the future of web3 is multichain.”
#1: Twitter Investigation Leads to IRL Arrests
The French authorities have charged five people in a $2.5M BAYC and MAYC fraud case. Deputy chief of the French cybercrime unit OCLCTIC Christophe Durand said the investigation had been triggered by research from the iconic Twitter sleuth “ZachXBT.” He describes himself as a “rug pull survivor turned 2D detective” and regularly details the results of his digs into shady crypto and NFT operations for his 300k+ followers.
According to the prosecution, the suspects, based in the French cities of Paris, Caen and Tours, used a phishing site that promised to animate NFTs in order to steal assets. The scheme took place between late 2021 and early 2022 and the charges include “fraud committed as part of a criminal gang, concealing fraud and criminal association.”
#2: CNN Rug Pull?!
In a notable case of mainstream un-adoption, CNN has drawn accusations of a ‘rug pull’ (abandoning a project and essentially scamming its adopters) after announcing it will shut down its NFT marketplace. The project, titled “Vault by CNN: Moments that Changed Us”, was an NBA Top Shot-style collection of iconic news moments developed on the Flow blockchain, with supposed future utilities such as CNN perks and minting your own CNN article NFTs.
In a further blow to its users, they will receive a mere 20% refund of the original mint price, in the form of stablecoins or FLOW tokens. CNN’s official statements on the matter call the whole endeavour an “experiment” and a “first foray” into Web3, when as recently as last month they were actively promoting token sales. While their marketplace will disappear, the media for the NFTs is stored in the IPFS distributed file system so should remain available in a small consolation for holders.
Interestingly and perhaps filling this gap for crypto-native audiences, Coin Telegraph announced on October 14th that they plan to launch their own historical NFT collection in which “articles that have shaped the blockchain industry” will be mintable as NFTs.
#1: The Currency Bonfire Begins
The burning of Damien Hirst’s The Currency paintings has been commenced, to widespread media attention and some outrage. Time Out’s art critic Eddy Frankel commented “even if you can't afford to turn on your heating at home, just go to Newport Street Gallery: it's free and it should be nice and toasty with all those £20,000 paintings on fire.”
Collectors were forced to choose between an NFT or a physical artwork, and for all that opted for the NFT, their corresponding painting is being destroyed - with each one’s unique code captured on camera before the ceremonial event. Hirst’s London gallery has been filled with fireplaces and guests were invited to watch live as the paintings were stacked and scorched.
Meanwhile, Hirst has hit back at his critics, saying "A lot of people think I'm burning millions of dollars of art but I'm not," Hirst said. "I'm completing the transformation of these physical artworks into NFTs by burning the physical versions.”
#2: The SEC Investigates Yuga Labs
The SEC has once again become the talk of the crypto/NFT town, after news broke that they have opened a probe into Yuga Labs. Bloomberg reports that “the SEC is examining whether certain NFTs from the Miami-based company are more akin to stocks and should follow the same disclosure rules,” while “also examining the distribution of ApeCoin.”
At the moment, there is no accusation of wrongdoing but the news rattled many, as the future of NFTs’ regulation and classification will be a critical factor in the space’s development. Meanwhile, Yuga put its best foot forwards by declaring full cooperation with the probe and an aspiration to help define and shape the NFT industry going forwards.
#3: Royalties Debate Heats Up
DeGods, the top Solana NFT collection, announced its move from 9.99% to 0% royalties this week, calling it an “experiment” and a business decision. This will apply to the DeGods, tOObs and yOOts collections.
Royalties have been the subject of extensive debate recently, and this can be interpreted as another major step towards a broader removal of royalties in the industry. Acknowledging that this is a thorny topic and one which has significant ramifications particularly for individual creators in the NFT space, DeGods tweeted “We still believe that royalties are an incredible use case of NFTs. We will continue to support creators that want to find solutions to enforce royalties.”
Feeling the competition from no-royalty rivals, Solana marketplace Magic Eden also announced this week it was teaming up with Coral Cube, a marketplace and aggregator with zero royalty sales as it finds itself losing market share.
- An insightful report from Decrypt on the inaugural OxBAT (Oxford Blockchain, Art & Technology) Conference. [Read it here]
- BrandShield CEO Yoav Karen gave an interview to Coin Telegraph on why NFT fraud protection should fall on brands rather than marketplaces. [Read it here]
- Keith Grossman, the President of TIME, goes deep with Rug Radio into his origin story and reflects on his prominent position today. [Listen here]
- It's been a week full of big stories, from turbulence in the DeGods ecosystem to the SEC investigation. Get the low down live from Vegas with this episode of the NFT Alpha Podcast. [Listen here]
- 3-4 November 2022: NFT.LONDON (brought to you by NFT.NYC) takes place in London, UK.