In the world of non-fungible tokens, nothing is off the table. After seeing people ready to pour out ridiculous amounts of cash to own NFT’s of farts, cat pictures, and Lindsay Lohan fanart, you might be wondering what absurd shit will find its way onto the blockchain next. And apparently, the answer is clipart. Clipart of a rock. Clipart of a rock that anyone can download for free right here, but that is also being sold on the blockchain for the price of a small house.
If reading that doesn’t make you want to walk into the ocean, then good news: You, too, can own one of the EtherRock up for sale right now, for the low, low price of $272,679. And that cost is only going to keep going up. When the anonymous dev behind this project first rolled out these collectibles in 2017, there were only 100 pet rocks put into circulation. As the site explaining the project points out, this limited run means that “each new virgin rock gets more and more expensive.”
They also helpfully added that these virtual rocks don’t serve a purpose “beyond being able to be brought and sold, and giving you a strong sense of pride in being an owner of 1 of the only 100 rocks in the game.” So, yeah.
Apparently, that pitch was enough to bring crypto collectors on board. Two weeks ago, the angel investor-turned crypto personality Gary Vaynerchuk tweeted about EtherRock as one of the “pre-2019 NFT projects” to keep an eye on over the next decade. Almost immediately, people began throwing down cash, and their prices skyrocketed. Since Vaynerchuk’s tweet went out, transaction records show the price of a single pet rock going from 1.2 ETH (roughly $3,700 USD) to 32 ETH (roughly $99,200 USD) to 80 ETH (roughly $248,600 USD). Over the past day, buyers have spent more than $664,000 combined on these collectibles, that, again, are literally just slightly tinted versions of the same royalty-free clipart that anyone can download.
Different folks have different motivations for buying one of these rocky buddies. One buyer explained in a Twitter thread that their $46,300 purchase was a way to own a bit of NFT history.
“As we get into an age of digital collectibles, being one of the earliest forms of the art and the first do something gives them provenance that is valuable,” they wrote. “The pet rocks present the perfect shock value, it’s so stupid that it’s perfect. Fate loves irony.”
Another buyer who dropped about $25,000 on his own rock told Motherboard that these buys were either “the stupidest or the most incredible decision of our lives.” He added that while he thought the concept was dumb at first, “FOMO kicked in,” the way FOMO tends to do, and $25,000 later he had a tiny piece of NFT history of his very own. And I totally get the sentiment—the internet’s architecture is doomed to rot from within as time goes on, leaving all of us with the job of archiving or buying bits of net history before they’re gone for good. But when that piece of history is some low-res clipart of a rock, you’re probably better off saving your money and downloading that thing for free.