When Craig Heatley looks at his original Andy Warhol print flowershe sees a man who got scammed.
Warhol’s art is worth millions, and Heatley bought the print years ago for “a lot of money”. But in 1964, the artist sold the piece for a fraction of its current value.
“The Andy Warhol I have on my wall is now worth a lot of money. But Warhol sold him for, excuse my language, four-fifths of f… everything. Well now Andy is dead, but l The idea that he did something and never again financially participated in his creative genius is anathema to me,” Heatley said.
Artists withdrawn from financial appreciation for their art was a problem Heatley hoped to solve when he bought a large stake in local company NFT Glorious.
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An NFT or non-fungible token is a unique line of code that can be used to prove ownership of a digital asset.
Anyone can copy an image from the internet, but someone with an NFT can prove they own the copyright to that image.
An NFT can also ensure that artists receive a percentage of the value of the artwork each time it is sold.
Glorious is a homegrown company that aimed to become, as Heatley described it, “the Louvre of NFTs.”
The company partnered with established artists to create high-end NFTs and built the digital infrastructure needed for people to buy and sell them.
Glorious has secured the rights to create NFTs from the artistic estates of New Zealand artists Gordon Walters, Rita Angus and Dick Frizzell, and has prominent backers including former All Blacks Dan Carter and Heatley.
Corporations Office records show that Dan Carter and his wife, Honor Carter, own 11.6% of Glorious.
The other six shareholders are individuals, except for a 9.4% stake held by NetX Partners Limited based in the Cayman Islands.
Heatley said he paid “way too much” for his stake in the business.
“I choked on it. But I never regretted paying for the quality,” he said.
Heatley became a multi-millionaire aged 27 in the late 1980s through a number of business ventures, including the Rainbow’s End theme park, but is best known to most New Zealanders for starting the pay-TV company Sky TV.
He compared Sky to the emerging technology of NFTs.
“When we launched Sky a lot of people, including my mum, said ‘Craig, you’re crazy. People will never pay for TV because we’ve always had it for free’.
“Now we’ve given birth to pay TV in New Zealand, and I’m not arrogant enough to say we’re giving birth to NFTs, but hopefully we’ll bring about a readjustment in the art industry when it comes to to what people consider valuable.”
Heatley called himself a “technically difficult person”, who had trouble downloading an app to his phone.
But as an art enthusiast, he said the value of the technology was obvious.
“We are at the dawn of a transformation. Will it happen overnight? No. Will it replace digital art? No. But as technology advances, it will change the way people consume art and other content.
Heatley had seen demonstrations of 3D wallpaper that could place the viewer in the middle of an All Black game as well as in Monet’s garden.
And from the artist’s point of view, NFT technology could make fraud a thing of the past, as the unique NFT code would be able to detect even the most detailed tampering.
But despite the potential, Heatley wasn’t blind to the NFT sector as a whole. He predicted, in the near future, an NFT market correction as big as the dot-com bubble.
“When we get some confusion in the NFT market, which I predict, every NFT organization in the world will be affected, but quality organizations with a quality product will survive and thrive.”
Financial advisor and cryptocurrency expert Darcy Ungaro also agreed that the NFT market will soon face a major correction.
“When you get waves of adoption for a new technology, a lot of bullshit sneaks in. This is exactly what has been happening in the NFT craze over the past 12 months. People are buying in euphoria, FOMO is in overdrive,” Ungaro said.
While some companies would go amazing, some would fall flat when the bubble burst, Ungaro said.
For this reason, it was crucial that new NFT companies like Glorious quickly prove their worth, he said.
“The task ahead of companies like Glorious is to reach their communities as quickly as possible, so that when the inevitable fix happens, hardcore users will still be loyal to their brand once the dust settles.”
Ungaro said that in the face of a correction, 99% of NFT companies would turn out to be just a mirage.
But the remaining 1% would be the companies the future was written on, he said.
Heatley was unfazed by the prospects of a correction.
He said NFT technology in general, and Glorious in particular, was powerful enough to overcome speed oscillations as the industry kicked into high gear.
“We’re seeing a whole new subset of art being born before our very eyes. It may morph and change, but this technology isn’t going away,” Heatley said.