Hip-hop veteran Ja Rule recently banked $122,000 for a piece of Fyre Festival non-fungible token (NFT) artwork, profiting from a 2017 scandal over the music festival he co-founded with shady entertainment businessman Billy McFarland.
The Fyre Festival was supposed to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. The luxury music festival failed and it turned out to be a $26 million fraud. Ja Rule was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The NFT Fyre Festival artwork was sold along with an actual physical painting. An NFT is is a unit of data and can represent digital files such as art, audio and videos. Online NFT art exchanges are competing against traditional auction houses.
“The sale was the latest in an accelerating market for NFTs, unique electronic identifiers that can be associated with a physical or digital artwork, a concept – or, like the stage lineup at the Fyre Festival, nothing at all,” The Guardian reported.
Some called out Ja Rule on Twitter.
“Ja Fraud,” said one user.
Another questioned, “So he sold a dream/nonexistent painting?”
The buyer of the Fyre Festival token also got an original work of art commissioned at the time for the festival. The piece, created by Tripp Derrick Barnes and featuring the Fyre Media logo, had been hanging in Ja Rule’s New Jersey home, Hype Beast reported.
The 48-inch-by-60-inch, oil-paint portrait was originally set at a reserve price of $600,000, Highsnobiety reported. But Ja Rule, eager to get rid of the artwork, knocked the price down considerably.
“I just wanted that energy out,” the artist told Forbes on why he sold it.
The artwork also comes with a note from the hip-hop artist that says, “Fuck this painting.”
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Ja Rule is a part-owner of the online exchange Flipkick, where his painting was sold.
Flipkick has been struggling despite the speculative asset bubble, which some experts predict will soon burst. Flipkick sells physical NFT works and claims to be “the first company to offer cryptographic authentication of physical works of art sold as and linked to NFTs,” The Art Newspaper reported.
Artist Mike “Beeple” Winkelmann recently sold an NFT for $69.3 million, the third-highest price achieved by a living artist. The sale of the purely digital artwork was done at premiere auction house Christie’s, “the strongest indication yet that NFTs have taken the art market by storm,” New York Times reported.
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