The man who owns the most expensive NFT in the world

A look into the mentality and motivations of the owner of a $69.3 million real estate investment trust.

Vignesh Sundaresan is unlikely to be a household name anytime soon. Nonetheless, the serial entrepreneur has created a name for himself in the cryptocurrency market under the alias Metakovan.

Sundaresan acquired the world’s most expensive NFT and the third most costly work by a living artist almost precisely a year ago. His $69.3 million acquisition of Beeple’s seminal “Everydays: The First 500 Days” stunned the industry and was credited with catapulting NFTs into the mainstream.

Beeple’s journey is truly paved with good intentions.

For months, the public struggled to make sense of the transaction and ascertain the identity of the individual who had just acquired the world’s most costly non-fungible token.

And, while Metakovan’s identity as the pseudonym behind the purchase was swiftly revealed, the buy’s reason remained largely unknown. Sundaresan remarked in the days following the historic acquisition that part of his reason for acquiring Beeple’s work was to demonstrate to Indians and people of colour that they, too, could become art customers.

 

“Consider an investor, a financier, or an arts patron. Your palette is monochrome nine times out of ten. We added a touch of mahogany to that colour scheme by winning the Christie’s auction of Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” he explained at the time.

However, additional elements were at work.

Sundaresan told that he considered the purchase as an investment in himself because he thought he was making history.

“I’m honoured to have contributed to the global recognition of NFTs. And to give something back to the system that has given me so much,” he explained to Anastasia Chernikova.

Sundaresan’s fortune in the cryptocurrency market is mainly unknown. He emphasises that he invests exclusively in ventures in which he believes and is only concerned with the project’s success. He believes the money was an afterthought.

He first became active in the crypto business in 2013, when he was looking for new methods of money transfer. Bitcoin, at the time a rather unknown new sort of currency, presented itself as the ideal solution for programming money.

Sundaresan founded Coins-e after achieving success by providing escrow services for Bitcoin payments. The timing was ideal—the exchange added 14,000 users in six months during the 2013 bull run. By the following summer, he had sold the exchange for $160,000, which he promptly invested in another venture. He co-founded BitAccess, an initiative financed by Y-Combinator that went on to install hundreds of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide.

In 2016, while on the lookout for interesting ideas, he came across Ethereum and invested a considerable amount of money in its initial coin offering (ICO).

“I was more concerned with producing and influencing the world, and I was a technological evangelist. At the time, saving the coins was a matter of not losing my sanity, but it now appears to be a prudent option.”

“I had no idea it would hit $100, let alone $1,000. I desired integration with the community. I recall celebrating when ether was $15 because we believed Ethereum had achieved success, not because we became wealthy. That is the sentiment I continue to harbour,” he stated.

That same sentiment, he subsequently added, will almost certainly preclude him from ever selling Beeple’s work.

Additionally, there is sentimental value—Sundaresan claimed that the tale behind Beeple’s art drew him in and prompted him to outbid Tron’s Justin Sun at Christie’s.

“It was the effort of the task that drew me in more than the ability, technique, or aesthetic promise,” he said of Beeple’s 13-year project, which includes 5,000 images. “It called to me because precisely 13 years ago, I was penniless. I began coding because it felt similar to my own journey — beginning with nothing and ending with something beautiful as a result of hard work. I admired it more for it than for its aesthetic depth or for anything else.”

 

NFTs have a bright and exciting future ahead of them.

Apart from generating enormous riches, the emergence of NFTs has resulted in a divide among their investors. Initially occupied by a close-knit community of artists, the NFT facility is now home to a diverse range of investors, the majority of whom view them as a limitless mine of cash.

This has resulted in the emergence of a new category of NFT projects known as hype projects, in which individual NFTs have been sold for tens of millions of dollars and have generated billions in trading volume. These types of NFT efforts typically make their way into the media, as news like pixelized Twitter profile photographs being auctioned for $23 million garners the greatest attention.

Sundaresan asserts that this attention is detrimental to the broader NFT ecosystem. Rather than that, they create an aura of exclusivity and portray the area as exclusive to the wealthy, contradicting all the business stands for.

“I’m not a fan of Cryptopunks, the Yacht Club, or other photo-for-profile (PFP) endeavours. I no longer wish to be a member of private clubs. Rather than that, I want to be a part of inclusive groups, bringing in new members and establishing a system where individuals can come together and appreciate something. As a result, I have avoided them personally.”

That is not to say that there isn’t a part of the market for which PFP initiatives were intended. However, the initiatives will almost certainly fail to survive another crypto winter.

“Trends come and go, and new ones emerge. I believe that programmes with unequal distribution are not permanent, and that no one can stop the proliferation of new and better projects. I am interested in alternatives to public-private partnerships.”

Despite his pursuit of meaningful and promising ventures, Sundaresan asserts that he, too, is susceptible to FOMO.

“Even if you have everything in the world, you cannot avoid FOMO. FOMO is a mental state.”

However, any anxieties of missing out are swiftly dispelled. He observes that if he is envious of the money being made on a buzz project, he considers the project’s trajectory over the next few years.

“And if I don’t believe in it, I’m going to sit this one out,” he added. “For instance, I’ve avoided Cardano and Solano because I disagree with their token distribution model. And I would think, ‘Oh, man, if I had invested, I would have made that money,’ but then I would have abandoned my values.”

According to his ideas, not everything in the crypto business should be viewed as an investment, particularly not NFTs. The tendency of purchasing NFTs in order to profit from them will soon reverse, he predicted, as the industry begins to add utility to them. The art in their NFTs will be experienced in a variety of different ways as the asset class moves away from wallets and becomes more integrated with the real world.

Assimilation into the real world will introduce a slew of new issues, the most significant of which will be regulation. Sundaresan, on the other hand, feels that any attempt to control the virtual NFT world will be fruitless, to put it mildly. The rapid development pace at which the crypto business has become accustomed means that governments and regulators will be unable to keep up.

“It will take three years for regulators to enact a legislation, and by that time, the crypto community will have moved on. You can regulate both off- and on-ramps, which is acceptable. However, prohibiting what you do not understand is incorrect. When legislators figure out how to regulate NFTs, another issue will arise. And I’m not sure what will come next. Regulation has often lagged behind innovation, and I believe that is by design.”

 

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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