The country's first major non-fungible token (NFT) auction has been judged a success, as a pair of digital images of the celebrated local artist, CF Goldie, sold for well-above market expectations.
Non-fungible tokens or NFTs use blockchain technology to show the ownership of something digital, such as videos, memes, tweets, and photographs.
These virtual assets are "minted" and established as unique files on a digital ledger (the blockchain) which provides an unfalsifiable record of ownership that can be traded.
Webbs auction house in Auckland sold the two digital images of Goldie, Charles Frederick Goldie at His Easel and Charles Frederick Goldie in His Studio, for $51,250 and $76,250 respectively.
This was well above the guide price of between $5000 and $8000 for each work.
Webbs director of art Charles Ninow said it was an "incredible" success.
"We did this auction because we could see the potential of the NFT space and I think that it's fair to say even we are astounded by the result."
The images were derived from the original glass plate negative of a pair of well-known photographs of the artist, taken between 1910 and 1920, by Robert Farnell Studios.
The buyer(s) would receive an NFT of the image that would be sent to their digital wallet, a framed print, as well as the original glass plate negative.
Ninow thought the success of the auction was a huge moment for the NFT industry and it already had its next concept in the works.
"We're going to look back in six months time, a year's time, at the prices these two lots achieved and they are going to look quite modest I think."
NFTs have exploded in popularity and value in the past year, with one work by the digital artist, Beeple, fetching $US69 million ($NZ103m) at an online auction run by Christies.
Closer to home, All Black legend Dan Carter and a clutch of local artists and entertainers launched a new NFT marketplace in September called Glorious.
However, the rise of this new asset class has attracted its fair share of criticism from sceptics.
OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley told RNZ in January that he thought NFTs were reaching peak hype.
He said their success was the result of low interest rates and people being conditioned over the last two years to buy almost anything.
Halley said short and medium term global economic movements are not likely to play in the favour of crypto and NFTs.
In particular, he expects the growth of inflation to have an impact, and for the Federal Reserve to start normalising interest rate policy, which would drive up the cost of credit.
Halley warns the non-tangible nature of these NFTs carries its own inherent risk.
"This is complete folly - you can't use it... why would you buy something you can't use?"