Token Supremacy: The Art of Finance, the Finance of Art, and the Great Crypto Crash of 2022

    Zachary Small

    Token Supremacy: The Art of Finance, the Finance of Art, and the Great Crypto Crash of 2022


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A New York Times investigative reporter wades into the murky, pixelated waters of the multibillion-dollar NFT market-the virtual casino that sprang up overnight in 2020 and came crashing down, with all its celebrity hucksters, just two years later. A vibrant and witty exploration of the increasingly blurry line between art and money, artist and con artist, value and worthlessness. In 2021, when the gavel fell at Christie's on the sale of Mike Winkelmann's Everydays series-a compilation of five thousand digital artworks-it made a thunderous announcement: Non-fungible tokens had arrived. The ludicrous world of CryptoKitties and Bored Apes had just produced a piece of art worth $69.3 million (at least according to the highest bidder). On that day, the traditional art market-the largest unregulated market in the world-put its stamp of approval on a very new and carnivalesque digital reality. But what did it mean for these two worlds to collide? Was it all just a money laundering scheme? And come on, what was that piece of digital flotsam really worth anyway? In Token Supremacy, Zachary Small works through these and other fascinating questions, tracing the crypto economy back to its origins in the 2008 financial crisis and the lineage of NFTs back to the first photographic negatives. Small describes jaw-dropping tales of heists, publicity stunts, and rug pulls, before zeroing in on the role of "security tokens" in the FTX scandal. Detours through art history provide insight into the mythmaking tactics that drive stratospheric auction sales and help the wealthy launder their finances (and reputations) through art. And we cast an eye toward the future of NFTs-in mortgages, restaurants, securities, and loans-that could outlive cryptocurrencies, becoming a new and dangerous shadow banking system in its own right. A wild and spellbinding tour through a world that strains belief.

Format/pages: hardback / 368 pages

ISBN: 9780593536759

Publisher: Knopf

Year: 2024



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