Technology

Beeple and the founder of Pitchfork are launching an NFT site where you can buy moments in time

After selling an NFT for $69 million in March, Beeple is making his next big move in the digital art space: he’s launching an NFT platform that’ll sell “iconic” moments in time.

The platform, called Wenew, is co-founded by Beeple and some longtime collaborators. They’re also bringing on Ryan Schreiber, the founder of Pitchfork, as Wenew’s editor-in-chief. Schreiber will help curate the moments sold on the platform, which will include highlights from the careers of athletes and artists.

“We’re definitely looking at this as sort of immortalizing these moments of human achievement for collectors,” Schreiber said.

Wenew’s first NFT series catalogs Andy Murray’s journey to winning Wimbledon in 2013. You’ll be able to buy his emotional runner-up speech from 2012, some of Murray’s best shots from 2013, and his eventual victory speech, among others. Or to be more specific, you’ll be able to buy a limited-edition digital file representing those moments since that’s all an NFT really is.

The NFTs will be priced from $49 to $4,999 each, and some of the more expensive ones will come with actual memorabilia — a signed poster, tickets to Wimbledon 2022, a replica trophy, or a digital display. At the very high end, Wenew will be auctioning off an NFT commemorating Murray’s game-winning point, and the buyer will also get 30 minutes to play tennis with him.

“A lot of things in the NFT world feel like a cash grab right now, and we wanted to put storytelling first,” Michael Figge, a Wenew co-founder, said.

NFTs face a few perpetual questions — starting with, simply, “why?” — but Wenew at least tries to answer the question of “what are you actually buying?” The initial buyers get something real out of the purchase, in addition to the nominal bragging rights that typically accompany an NFT purchase.

The format is similar to the NBA’s Top Shot platform, which turns game highlights into virtual trading cards (albeit without any IRL extras). They’ve been a huge success for the NBA so far, with more than $500 million in sales in just its first six months.

Wenew wants to expand on that idea by reaching back in time and across different disciplines. The company plans to move into the music space, too, which is part of why Schreiber is on board. His job is to find major athletes and artists and build story arcs around them, identifying where NFTs can be sold along the way. The NFT sales will be accompanied by feature-length stories from journalists meant to explore why these events mattered.

There’s also the outstanding question of how many musicians Wenew can get on board. NFTs have been controversial in music spaces — “I don’t want people to bet on me like a racehorse,” Zola Jesus told Pitchfork last month — and broadly criticized by artists for their energy use and climate impact. Schreiber sees them as a way to “redefine” the relationship between artists and their benefactors.

“It offers them the potential to actually be able to make what they deserve to make, frankly, off of their work,” Schreiber said. Figge said the platform will include a carbon offset fee that “more than offsets that NFT’s transaction costs to the environment.”

Wenew’s website launches today, and its first NFT sales begin on July 2nd.