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Yes, it seems the real artists, who have been auctioning off NFT art like there’s no tomorrow, will soon be upstaged by virtual celebrities, or those who only exist as animated characters. The series of auctions starts July 9 and continues through July 22. During that time, more than 9,240 unique NFTs will drop at jankyheist.com.
Janky & Guggimon have become viral synthetic celebrities or virtual beings. In the Christie’s deal, they’re going to stage a faux heist, breaking into the auction house in an attempt to steal a bunch of stuff. Janky & Guggimon were created by the global entertainment brand Superplastic, which will drop eight one-of-a-kind NFTs during the upcoming Trespassing auction.
“I’ve been creating stuff like this my whole life. We’re making things and inventing them and it’s been a blast,” said Paul Budnitz, the CEO of Superplastic, in an interview with GamesBeat. “It’s just a brand-new medium.”
Let me rephrase that. I think it was Budnitz I was interviewing, but he was dressed up as his virtual character, Guggimon. His PR person insisted it was him, or at least his voice.
NFTs have exploded in applications such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example. Built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $700 million in sales, just seven months after going public. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. Gaming has a couple of new unicorns, or startups valued at $1 billion, in Animoca Brands and Forte. NFTs are now selling at a rate of $23 million a week, though the initial hype around NFTs is dying down.
Regarding whether NFTs will last, Budnitz doesn’t know if it will be a tidal wave or just get our feet wet. But he said, “I know the waves will just keep on coming.”
As part of the auction, Janky & Guggimon will be creating NFTs in partnership with artists including Gucci Ghost, OG Slick, Shantell Martin, Alex Pardee, among others.
The genesis of Janky & Guggimon’s NFT drop is documented in Superplastic: The Janky Heist, a short film the duo edited together from security and police footage, and that follows their unsuccessful attempt to break into Christie’s New York at Rockefeller Center to steal rare works of art. After accidentally blowing up the building, Janky & Guggimon escape into the night with fistfuls of broken NFTs.
The drop employs blockchain mechanics and a custom-built reverse Japanese auction mechanism in which scarcity increases while NFT prices go down over time.
Superplastic’s Janky & Guggimon are already pretty successful on the NFT sales front, as they have sold more than $3.5 million worth to date.
Noah Davis, digital art specialist at Christie’s, said in a statement that this is the first time it will be auctioning off works of art created by virtual artists. It’s also the first time someone has blown up Christie’s as part of an auction. Budnitz said he is sorry that Janky & Guggimon blew up Christie’s headquarters.
“It’s amazing that Christie’s let us blow up their building in the video,” Budnitz said. “They have a really awesome legal team. We’ll see how it goes.”
NFTs up for sale
Starting July 9 at 7 a.m. Pacific time, the Trespassing auction will feature Janky & Guggimon at Christie’s NY: The online-only sale curated in partnership with Ronnie K. Pirovino with eight NFTS created as a collaboration between Janky & Guggimon and artists including Gucci Ghost, OG Slick, Shantell Martin, Alex Pardee, Stickymonger, and Aleksandar. Todorovic.
On July 13 at 1 p.m. Pacific, the Janky Heist by Janky & Guggimon, sponsored by Superplastic in collaboration with Christie’s will debut over 9,240 unique CryptoJanky NFTs available for purchase in a reverse Japanese-style auction with prices that go down over time. The CryptoJanky NFTs are based on the recombination of 22 broken Janky figures stolen by Janky & Guggimon from Christie’s during their failed Heist.
Bidders are initially presented with a randomly selected unique CryptoJanky NFT, which is generated out of three parts: head, torso, feet. If the bidder wants it they hit the buy button. If they prefer to gamble, they hit the “try again” button, which generates a new unique NFT. Bidders can do this as many times as they want — but once an NFT is gone, it’s gone! In addition, Golden Ticket and special NFTs earned by collecting special combinations make this first-of-its-kind drop even more fun.
Full drop details and mechanics can be found here.
Budnitz has been following the wave of virtual influencers for a while. He said he loves characters that are born from toys, and he capitalized on that with KidRobot, which he sold in 2012. Budnitz (the creator of KidRobot, Ello, Budnitz Bicycles) started Superplastic as a global brand for entertainment.
With Superplastic, he thought it would be neat if the next famous universe of animated characters came from social media rather than TV shows or movies.
Many of the first ones were very realistic in their human appearance. But Budnitz believes that those look kind of creepy and that animated characters are going to rule.
“Using them, we were able to tell a story in a way that I think no one’s been able to tell before,” he said. “The stories are interactive, and so we get to tell these awesome stories. We can get into the fun stuff.”
About 18 months ago, he launched 3D-animated characters like Janky and others and it was a viral success. With the NFTs, the characters are the artists and people are collecting toys and art designed by those characters.
It has more than six million followers, and its Instagram and TikTok sensations include Janky, Guggimon, Dayzee, Staxx, Pandakat, Kranky, Shüdog and many others. In June 2021 Guggimon became one of eight new playable characters in Fortnite.
As for the NFT downturn, he said, “I think certain people who make great work are going to thrive. And I think for some people, it’s not going to be very profitable. We will have everything in between. Over time as it starts to settle. I think in the very beginning, there was all this hype, and it was just like anything could sell, right? We all saw that people were just selling widgets with their feet. And but I think in the long run, I think that anytime you do awesome work, and you build an awesome following, that will be sustainable.”
He added, “What’s really interesting about NFT’s is their use that is their uniqueness. They create a permanent trail for themselves. This goes back to a lot of what we do, which is blurring between reality and metaverse, virtual stuff. OUr characters move in and out of the real world and gaming worlds and virtual worlds all the time. ”
Previously, Superplastic was selling NFTs at the Nifty Gateway. Then the company built its own platform for the Janky & Guggimon NFT drop, Budnitz said. Shopify is providing some of the solution. The auction can take place with U.S. dollars.
“There are all kinds of surprises that I can’t quite talk about yet,” he said.
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