Investors Are Making NFTs of the Blockchain, on the Blockchain

Have we reached peak NFT when the blockchain starts eating itself?
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Image: Rarible

We’ve seen almost everything minted into an NFT at this point, except the blockchain itself. Well, MyEtherWallet (MEW) announced a new feature that will allow the mining of NFTs based on important moments in Ethereum's history. This feature, called ETH Blocks, will also allow users to mint any Ethereum transactions they like as an NFT for whatever reason.

MEW founder and CEO Kosala Hemachandra told Decrypt that 13 blocks representing significant moments in Ethereum's history such as its whitepaper release in 2013 and the first Ether sale in 2014 will be auctioned on December 11, with the proceeds going to nonprofits. However, the project will ultimately mint hundreds or thousands of blocks. The actual NFTs are JPEGs created using data from specific Ethereum blocks, and once they’re minted, the owner can try and re-sell them for an even higher price.


"We wanted to provide users the ability to recognize major milestones associated with Ethereum," Hemachandra said in a press release. "Instead of owning ETH or an Ethereum-based asset, they may now obtain an immutable and gorgeous record of ownership of the entire Ethereum block."

This is about as close to a snake eating its own tail as NFTs have gotten: using Ethereum to create an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain commemorating a moment in Ethereum’s history which can then be sold for Ethereum. Remember, the Ethereum blockchain, like all blockchains, has the sole purpose and value of being a historical record of data that anyone can look up at any time. Those blocks are on the blockchain, probably forever, and are at essentially no risk of being lost. Now, there are NFTs representing those blocks included in later blocks, for some reason. 

In a Medium post explaining the new feature, MEW doesn't elaborate much on the value of minting NFTs that represent individual blocks on Ethereum's blockchain besides this being a way to celebrate the cryptocurrency and claim some individual ownership over something that is definitionally public: the blockchain.

"Whether it's a block that represents a milestone in Ethereum's history," writes MEW, "or one that has a secret and special significance to you personally—once you’ve minted it, no one else can get it."


MEW is hoping that'll be enough—along with discounts—to spur quick and early adoption of ETH Blocks. The first 100 blocks are going to be priced at 0.01 ETH, the next 500 at 0.03 Eth, and then every single block afterwards at 0.05 ETH.

It is hard to imagine this feature will have much use beyond speculation. Already, on sites like Rarible, you can find blocks offered at ridiculous price points for frankly unjustified reasons. 

Take Block #521, an NFT of an Ethereum block sold on Rarible features a modest description: “Completed on 7/30/2015, this iconic piece of history included 0 transactions. Note the use of 0 in gas. With a size of 540 bytes, this immutable piece will look fantastic next to a candelabra.”  It is being sold for 521 ETH ($2,424,734).

The second-most expensive ETH Block on sale, Block #1718497, is being offered for 400 ETH ($1,860,542) and features a similar description: "Completed on 6/17/2016, this iconic piece of history included 5 transactions. Note the use of 4,081,851 in gas. With a size of 1,362 bytes, this immutable piece will look fantastic next to a candelabra."

In fact, each of the most expensive blocks on Rarible feature the same sort of formulaic description that evokes a wine tasting or art sale: "note the use of X in gas" or "this will look fantastic next to a X.”

Are these jokes? Are these serious attempts to foist arbitrary moments of Ethereum’s blockchain history on to knaves and fools? Our increasing inability to distinguish one from the other is not just an indictment of this particular collection, but arguably of the entirety of this space altogether as it hurtles toward and ultimately past the point of “peak NFT.”