New Zealand auction house becomes the first to auction NFTs

The digital and physical art worlds are combining with the auction of two non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for black and white photos of the Kiwi artist Charles Goldie.

The photos have been turned into a unique computer code that only the buyer can access.

NFTs is a digital world that is generating crazy amounts of money.

There are two original glass plate negatives of a photo of the artist Charles Goldie, but Webb's auction house is not selling them - it's selling the NFT of each photo, a unique digital code.

"But here's the interesting thing, if you buy the NFT, you get the plate with it," head of art at Webb's auction house Charles Ninow says.

"We are taking something made on a specific day and specific time and is really important to New Zealand's history and in a way we are making it immortal."

Webb's is New Zealand's first major auction house to do this, but it's nothing compared to the NFT craze sweeping the virtual world.

Last year, digital artist Beeple could not believe the price an NFT went for.

"$69 million - I think it means digital art is here to stay;" he said.

Unique digital avatars are also fetching huge sums, with a Cryptopunk selling for US$10 million.

There's celebrity endorsement with Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon using Bored Ape avatars, while All Blacks Ardie and Julian Savea have Party Bears. 

"Yes, there is an incredible amount of money being thrown around in the industry and it's definitely in a bubble of sorts," co-founder of New Zealand NFT maker Fluf World Alex Smeele says.

If someone buys a bunny avatar they can get access to a metaverse, or virtual world, where you can perhaps socialise with rapper Snoop Dogg.

"When it comes to NFT digital art and the metaverse as well, there is a lot of opportunities to actually redefine yourself and really express yourself as you feel and that's a really empowering experience," Smeele says.

That's a real-world away from when Goldie was snapped in his studio.

A price guide for this Friday's auction is $5000 to $8000 per NFT and there's a twist involving 

the glass negative and a hammer.

"Perhaps you might want to make it permanently digital. Smash it? Smash it," Ninow says.

Welcome to a world where the digital means more than the physical.