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What Are NFTs, And Why Are Some Worth Millions Of Dollars?




A woman walks in front of a digital painting by Chinese artist Liu Gang (back) at a crypto art exhibition in Beijing on March 26, 2021.
A woman walks in front of a digital painting by Chinese artist Liu Gang (back) at a crypto art exhibition in Beijing on March 26, 2021.
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

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A digital art piece, tweaked using cryptocurrency technology to make it one-of-a-kind, sold at auction earlier this month for nearly $70 million. That transaction made global headlines and buoyed already-mushrooming interest in these kinds of digital objects — known as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs — that have captured the attention of artists and collectors alike.

In economics jargon, a fungible token is an asset that can be exchanged on a one-for-one basis. Think of dollars or bitcoins — each one has the exact same value and can be traded freely. A non-fungible object, by contrast, has its own distinct value, like an old house or a classic car.

Cross this notion with cryptocurrency technology known as the blockchain and you get NFTs. These are effectively digital certificates of authenticity that can be attached to digital art or, well, pretty much anything else that comes in digital form — audio files, video clips, animated stickers, this article you’re reading.

NFTs confirm an item’s ownership by recording the details on a digital ledger known as a blockchain, which is public and stored on computers across the internet, making it effectively impossible to lose or destroy.

At the moment, these tokens are white-hot in the collecting world, where they’re being used to solve a problem central to digital collectibles: how to claim ownership of something that can be easily and endlessly duplicated.

Today on AirTalk, we’re learning more about what NFTs are, why some are so valuable, and what it all means. Questions? Give us a call at 866-893-5722.

With files from the Associated Press

Guests:

Liz Lopatto, deputy editor at The Verge who has been covering the story; she tweets @mslopatto

Moish Peltz, digital intellectual property attorney at Falcon Rappaport & Berkman; he tweets @peltzm