Who knew an Internet meme from 2013 would make so much money?
Last night, Malaysian contemporary artist Red Hong Yi (known as Red) sold her Doge To The Moon non-fungible token (NFT) in an online auction for 36.3 ETH, which is currently valued at RM325, 000.
Touted to be the most expensive NFT sold by a Malaysian artist, this is the first work of six in her “Memebank” series, which will involve spoofing and redesigning banknotes from different countries such as the Chinese Yuan, US Dollar, Euro, British Pound, Malaysian Ringgit and Japanese Yen.
“I’m incredibly grateful for this first NFT experience. My team worked hard on this. We discussed and worked on ideas for almost six months. So I’m really happy to see our work pay off, ” says the Sabah-born Red.
“My banknotes are printed through an etched copper plate, allowing me to print as many banknotes as I want to but like an NFT, there will only ever be one master plate. The owner of the NFT will also own the copper plate, ” she added in an earlier statement.
Red shares that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Mercy Malaysia’s Covid-19 pandemic relief fund. She will also be using the money to initiate a series of community art projects here.
The Doge To The Moon NFT, based on the viral Doge meme featuring a Shiba Inu dog, dropped on Binance on June 27 as part of the cryptocurrency exchange platforms’s inaugural 100 Creators programme to launch the Binance NFT Marketplace.
After a two-week auction, Doge To The Moon was sold to Anonymous_2la3, who will also own the physical copper plate (157.5cm x 75cm x 0.15cm) and the printed banknote on silk.
Doge To The Moon is inspired by the Chinese Yuan as a nod to China being at the forefront of the cryptocurrency landscape, and being the first in history to issue paper money during the Song Dynasty.
A closer inspection of the artwork will reveal the Dogecoin logo, a Doge-based cryptocurrency launched in Dec 2013. Also included in the artwork is the serial number 06122013 which refers to Dec 6, 2013, the date when Dogecoin was created.
In a broader light, Red’s Memebank series is a reflection of how meme assets, cryptocurrencies and NFTs have disrupted industries, including traditional banking and art galleries.
“One concern about fiat money (a national currency that is not pegged to the price of a commodity) is the continual printing of paper money, which economists warn will lead to inflation.
“This has led to a large community of everyday people seeking alternative investments. This is what my project will be addressing, ” says Red.
The artist shares that the other Meme Banknotes in the series will be minted and available on the Binance NFT Marketplace over the next five months.
Collectors can also look forward to Red’s Memebank exhibition later in the year in KL which will showcase all the physical Meme Banknotes.
“As an artist, I have always been intrigued by how traditional and digital art can be integrated to create timeless masterpieces – uncovering the intricate elements of traditional craftsmanship with digital finishing techniques, ” says Red.
“NFTs may still be a novel concept to many, but I do believe in its potential to create a more transparent and efficient world.
“NFTs have been gaining prominence in the arts industry in recent times and have allowed artists to create digital certificates of ownership for their valuable work, ” she concludes.
Other Malaysian artists have also shown interest in the potential of NFTs, and the emergence of this new economy can be viewed at the ongoing inaugural Crypto Art Week Malaysia 2021, which ends on July 18. A selection of digital works by 29 Malaysian crypto artists are on exhibit, including Red’s Doge To The Moon.
Glossary, you say?
1. Blockchain – A digital ledger.
2. “Doge” – Though no one really knows the origins of this intentionally misspelled word, it was mentioned in a 2005 episode of puppet series Homestar Runner.
3. ETH – Ether is the main token of the Ethereum blockchain.
4. Meme assets – A stock or an asset that gains viral attention through social media.
5. Non-fungible token – A unit of data stored on a blockchain with unique identification codes and therefore cannot be replicated.