In a coming-of-age tale for the 21st century, Disaster Girl—the cherubic 4-year-old whose criminal grin in front of a burning building captured the internet-poisoned soul of her forebearers—has become an NFT. Now-Disaster Woman Zoe Roth, age 21, has sold her image for 180 Ethereum (currently, $473,000 USD).
Out of all of the crap to drop half a million dollars on in the NFT bubble, Disaster Girl is a safe bet. The wall text reads, accurately:
4 year-old Zoe Roth ran to the burning house in her neighborhood on a fateful morning in January, 2005. Her Dad was a few steps behind with camera in tow, and quickly snapped a few photos of Zoe flashing a devilish grin with the inferno ablaze. One photo stood out, and was published in 2008. Discovered by internet connoisseurs, it rapidly spread to every corner of the world, becoming one of the most recognizable images of the 21st century.
Disaster Girl, which was claimed on April 17th, now sits high in a tony collection that includes such eternal works as Overly Attached Girlfriend ($529,798); a column by New York Times journalist Kevin Roose ($927,146); a gif by foundational net artist Rafaël Rozendaal (roughly $371,000); and artwork for Jangale Asfalt, a pioneering taboo Persian hip-hop album ($503,300). Since its purchase, the piece has appreciated by $71,280 due to Ethereum’s fluctuation.
The collection belongs to one mysterious and prolific collector @3FMusic, whose handle links to the Instagram account for Farzin Fardin Fard, CEO of a Dubai-based music production company. As Roose has noted, it’s unclear whether @3FMusic is Fard, a business entity, or a group of people. Gizmodo has reached out, but the collector only agreed to give Roose the following statement under the condition of anonymity:
Our management team is always in cooperation with some highly knowledgeable and experienced art advisers who believe that we must grow with technological movements that help us to not only promote our business but also to support artists and the art market. Thus, we have proudly decided to dedicate sufficient funds and resources to invest in NFT as pioneers of this industry.
As for Disaster Girl, the Raleigh News & Observer has reported that an unknown person approached Roth and her father (the photographer) via email in February and encouraged them to sell the image as an NFT. The two apparently plan to split the earnings, and Zoe is reportedly “researching nonprofits.” (Aging Millennial advice: KEEP IT, YOU DESERVE IT.) She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Peace, War, and Defense, and she seems to be doing great.
The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the fire depicted was a controlled fire intended to clear land—so presumably, no one died in the making of this image and we can continue freely enjoying it in slightly altered form because it is a meme, and no one will stop us.
We mined the child for laffs, and now we’ve mined her for crypto, and yet, for a lifetime, Disaster Girl has given us joy for free. What a world we are leaving for her to grow up in.