Justin Sun, founder of the world’s leading blockchain ecosystem TRON, purchased a highly symbolic NFT collection of 12 Digital Zodiac Heads for a record price of USD1.55 million (RMB 9,832,500) last week.
The 12 Digital Zodiac Heads, auctioned by Metapoly XM, a brand under Poly Auction (Xiamen), is the NFT art collection that draws inspiration from the legendary Chinese Zodiac animals.
Traditional vs. digital: why the 12 zodiac animals matter
The twelve zodiac animals are well-known symbols of Chinese culture and philosophy. As a tradition dating back more than 2000 years, Chinese families assign their newborns a zodiac animal matching the lunar calendar year of their birth. These zodiac animals are supposed to represent and influence one’s personality, character and fortunes through life. Countless artworks have been created based on the twelve zodiac animals. Among them, the twelve bronze animal heads of the Old Summer Palace, lost during the Second Opium War of 1860, are the best known worldwide.
Poly Auctions’ parent company, state-owned Poly Corp., had previously purchased three of the animal heads for repatriation, and now displays four of them, along with replicas of the remaining ones, in a Beijing museum.
To many observers, Sun’s collaboration with Metapoly XM to reunite the venerated national symbols in the digital world not only cements his stature as a world-leading NFT collector, but also indicates his grander ambitions in the world of digital art and philanthropy.
Justine Sun has his eyes on the NFT market
The NFT art market has seen explosive growth in recent years. Public data showed that NFT art transactions hit USD17 billion in 2021, a whopping 200-fold increase from just a year ago.
Global tech giants including Meta, Microsoft, Disney, and Tencent, as well many international celebrities, have made big moves in the NFT market. But how do sellers and buyers benchmark the prices of NFT artworks properly? What are the true values of NFT artworks?
Afterall, blockchain-based ecosystems are helping to build a bridge between the traditional art world and the evolving digital world. Sun has predicted that half of the world’s top 100 artists and artworks will be turned into NFTs in the coming decade.
Sun is a visionary in his field. At the age of 26, he founded TRON in 2017, a blockchain-based operating system. Today, TRON has become one of the world’s largest blockchain and crypto ecosystems, boasting over 84 million users worldwide and average daily trading volume of USD1.5 billion on its networks.
With a history degree from the prestigious Peking University, and a master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania, Sun is no stranger to the world of arts and culture. In recent years, he has purchased some of the world’s most famous masterpieces of art for his personal collection. The latest additions to this impressive ensemble include: the Nose (Le Nez), purchased for USD78 million at Sotheby’s New York Fall Auction in 2021, Pablo Picasso’s Femme nue couchée au collier (Marie-Thérèse) purchased for USD20 million, and Three Self-Portraits by Andy Warhol for USD2 million, at Christie’s 20th Century Art Evening Sale.
Sun has since tokenized most of these artworks and launched the NFT artworks publicly.
APENFT Marketplace is coming
Last March, the APENFT Foundation was established with a mission to turn the world’s top artworks into NFTs. The foundation has received world-class technological support from TRON, the world’s largest blockchain ecosystem, and Bittorrent File System (BTFS), which provides the most advanced decentralized file storage system.
As the biggest supporter of APENFT, Sun has donated unique tokenized versions of the above-mentioned masterpieces, as well his USD6 million NFT artwork OCEAN FRONT , by the renowned crypto artist Beeple, to the foundation.
The foundation aims to create and promote more high-quality digital assets through financial and technology support, helping more people to understand and get access to NFTs. In time, APENFT plans to expand its exploration and expertise into digital entertainment, culture preservation, and other fields.
The foundation is currently testing its NFT platform, APENFT Marketplace, and plans to launch it soon. Industry insiders expect that one of the animal heads in the 12 Digital Zodiac Heads collection will be listed on APENFT Marketplace.
OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace today, is valued at USD13.3 billion after a latest funding round in January, the same month its trading volume topped USD 5 billion. Is the upcoming APENFT Marketplace going to become a strong challenger to OpenSea? Anybody who knows Sun’s passion and ambition would have little doubt of the question. But that may only be a start.