Obscure NFT Collection Based On Memes Fetches $83M Market Cap - The Defiant - DeFi News

Obscure NFT Collection Based On Memes Fetches $83M Market Cap – The Defiant – DeFi News

Founded by Punk6529 The Memes Seeks to Change Up NFT Model and Pursue ‘Open Metaverse’

On Jan. 19, something unusual happened in the NFT market — a CryptoPunk, which typically sells for a minimum of $100,000, was swapped for a full set of tokens from an obscure collection called The Memes. 

The transaction wouldn’t have been conceivable three months ago. The Memes, a collection that declares the viral images are “the most important thing in the world,” was little known in the NFT market. Now the value of the collection has skyrocketed 19-fold, to 52,916 ETH or $83M, according to data provider NFTGo. 

The Memes market cap has soared. Source: NFTGo

The idea behind The Memes collection is that memes, transmittable units of culture, can be owned in the form of NFTs. It may strike many as counterintuitive — the whole point of memes, of course, is to share takes through widely recognizable images. So how could you “own” one?

Memetic Ownership

But Punk6529, a popular pseudonymous figure in the crypto community and the primary driver of The Memes project, has long argued  NFTs expressing “memetic ownership” are negotiable products. Punk6529 rose to fame in 2021 thanks to a slew of threads offering unique perspectives on crypto, with a particular focus on NFTs’ potential.

 “NFTs are the fastest, most scalable, most potent layer ever built to finance and transport ‘art,’ and ‘memes,’” Punk6529 tweeted in August 2021. 

Jasper Johnss Flag Encaustic oil and collage on fabric mounted on plywood1954 55
The original meme? Jasper Johns’ Flag (1954-55) is a post-war icon.

The pseudonymous influencer thinks of symbols like American Flag and the Nike logo as memes. He thinks equally powerful memes, which he sees as forms of “myths,” will rise from the world of NFTs.

“In three to five years we will see global brands that were built off NFT collections,” Punk6529 said on a recent podcast with Raoul Pal, CEO and co-founder Real Vision, a media platform. 

Pop Art: Original Memes

In terms of art, Punk6529 may have a point. The artist Jasper Johns, after all, struck a chord in 1954-55 with his acclaimed painting of an American flag. While he used newsprint in the substrate, Flag was not stylized in any radical way. But the very act of its painting reflected Old Glory’s iconic power as symbol, especially in a post-war context.

By the same token, Andy Warhol revolutionized the conception of art by reproducing pop icons — the memes of their day — such as the Campbell soup can and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.  

Black font crop from Campbells Soup Cans MOMA
Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans Collection (1962) revolutionized our conception of art.

Punk6529 isn’t making art, but with memes the new lingua franca of social media, the collector is spotlighting the idea that icons can be owned. 

It would appear that other collectors agree, at least for now. 


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Even so, the value of The Memes may have more to do with speculation than the appreciation of artistic concepts. Moreover, it’s difficult to prove that owning an NFT of The Memes collection actually means a person owns the culture unit at all — after all, memes are arguably freely transmissible by nature. 

Regardless, The Memes are on fire right now. And like all art, it’s hard to discern exactly why some collections get hot and others don’t. But The Memes uses a novel minting model that’s caught the eye of investors.

Minting New Tokens

Instead of a one-time mint of 10,000 NFTs, a distribution method used by many projects, The Memes is continually minting new tokens, referred to as “cards” — the mint for the 58th card went live on Jan. 25. 

This generates continuous excitement, and, as new artists are consistently being brought in to create the image for the next card, significant reach as the fanbase of each creator gets exposed to Memes.

An NFT from The Memes collection.

Adding to the excitement, each mint comes with its own allowlist, meaning the list of wallet addresses which are eligible to purchase the NFT. The list is typically some fusion of holders of other NFTs made by the card’s creator, as well as those who hold some of The Memes already in existence. 

The allowlist changes a bit each time, which keeps people engaged, and sometimes too much so — the pseudonymous buyer of the CryptoPunk cited the 2: 30am mints as a reason they wanted to sell a full set of The Memes. 

The Memes also employs a novel way of categorizing its images. Meme NFTs are grouped by crypto-centric memes like “not your keys not you