Thursday, December 3, 2020
Home Decrypt News There's a Bitcoin Hidden Inside This Piece of "Programmable" Art

There's a Bitcoin Hidden Inside This Piece of “Programmable” Art

In brief

  • MEME has unveiled a new form of programmable art.
  • It’s selling 12 identical NFTs, only one holds an entire Wrapped Bitcoin.
  • But once someone reveals which NFT holds the Bitcoin, the value of the other NFTs could fall.

The team behind MEME, a DeFi project that began in August as a joke but quickly spiraled into a six-million-dollar meme empire, is offering investors a 1-in-12 chance to earn a Wrapped Bitcoin.

On Monday, MEME will auction off 12 identical NFTs that represent artist Simon Wan’s painting of film director Alfred Hitchcock holding a magnifying glass.

But embedded inside the code of one of the NFTs is the key to a whole Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC, an Ethereum-based Bitcoin stand-in), worth about $18,800. There’s no way to know which NFT holds the Bitcoin until you buy your NFT and “unlock” it.

The theory is that if one of the purchasers unlocks their NFT and reveals the WBTC, the value of other NFTs will crash. The work, which starts as a swirling, psychedelic mass, gives way to the Hitchcock painting once it’s unlocked.

The project is called the Rug Pull (a nod to a pervasive scam tactic that can render tokens worthless), and the value of the NFT art itself, minus the Bitcoin, will ultimately be determined by the buyers at auction.

Meme coins were a thing long before there was an actual coin called MEME. Dogecoin, a token inspired by the doge meme, was first issued in 2013, and today has a market cap of over $400 million. 

But the circular logic of Twitter bits dictated that, this summer, an engineer develop a coin explicitly called MEME on the Ethereum blockchain. 

MEME is now the third most popular of the meme coins, behind Monacoin and Dogecoin, with a market cap of almost $7 million. (Disclosure: the coin’s creator, Jordan Lyall, is a ConsenSys employee—an editorially independent Decrypt is funded by ConsenSys).

The NFT space continues to heat up, with people dropping absurd amounts of money for digital art and collectibles. 

And there’s a parallel to be drawn between NFTs and memes, in terms of constructed value and social currency. They’re only worth the attention that people are willing to pay at a given time.

But like the best artworks, the most enduring memes burrow into our collective cultural memory, for better or for worse.


The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.

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