Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali, the 22-year-old internet sensation from Indonesia who turned hundreds of his selfies into NFTs. Photo: Daffa Ramya Kanzuddin / AFP
A university student from Indonesia has become an overnight internet sensation after turning a personal selfie project into a lucrative blockchain business—raking in $1 million in sales on an NFT platform. "I was thinking it might be funny if one of the collectors collected my face," said Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali, a 22-year-old computer science student from the city of Semarang in Central Java. He was speaking to reporters who had turned up at his school campus this week after his story went viral.
“I never thought anybody would want to buy the selfies,” he said, explaining that he had priced each picture at “only $3.” Almost every day for the past five years, Ghozali took pictures of himself sitting in front of his computer and looking stoic. He said that he had intended to use the album of nearly 1,000 selfies to create a timelapse video commemorating his upcoming graduation, but changed his plans after learning about blockchain technology and the crypto metaverse. But his NFT success wasn’t immediate. It was only when an Indonesian celebrity chef chanced upon his profile weeks later on the OpenSea website and promoted it that sales and demand exploded.Ghozali's NFT collection subsequently reached a total trade volume of 317 Ether, the cryptocurrency of blockchain Ethereum and the equivalent of more than $1 million. According to AFP, his selfies were selling for 0.247 Ether—around $806—on Friday. At their peak, each selfie sold for 0.9 Ether—around $3,000. But the profits didn’t stop there. On Instagram, it was revealed that Ghozali had also made earnings of up to $103,620 in secondary sale royalties from people selling on his NFTs.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs as they are popularly known in the cryptoverse, are non-interchangeable units of data stored on a blockchain system. Buyers of NFTs own the original work—which can be anything from drawings to music, but most commonly digital art—and items can sell for tens-of-millions of dollars.
“I never thought anybody would want to buy the selfies.”
Ghozali has shared that he will no longer be listing any more of his famous selfies and has urged collectors not to abuse his photos. “You can do anything like flipping or whatever but please don't abuse my photos or my parents will [be] very disappointed to me,” he wrote in a tweet announcing his departure. “I believe in you guys so please take care of my photos.”
He now plans to invest the money and dreams of opening his own animation studio, according to AFP. But he’s still very much in high demand, amassing more than 16,000 followers on Twitter where he actively comments on other NFTs and other selfies. Follow Heather Chen on Twitter.