Someone Bought an NFT of a Free Clipart Rock for $1.3 Million

EtherRock, a collection of 100 cartoon rocks all based on free clipart, is a breakout phenomenon and the stakes just keep getting higher.
August 24, 2021, 3:08pm
Someone Bought an NFT of a Free Clipart Rock for $1.3 Million
Image: Twitter/EtherRockPrice

Three weeks ago, a four-year-old NFT project called EtherRock suddenly went viral, sending prices skyrocketing.

The premise is simple: 100 images of the same cartoon rock, each tinted a slightly different color, attached to 100 NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. According to the collection’s pseudonymous developer, the rock image was pulled from the online clipart database goodfreephotos.com.

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With fame came value; when Motherboard wrote about EtherRock last week, the lowest listed price for an NFT was around $300,000 in ether, and several high-profile crypto influencers were already on board.

Last night, EtherRock #42—a reddish-brown iteration of that same clipart rock—sold for 400 ETH, or over $1.3 million. On Twitter, a UK-based trader named Tom Osman identified himself as the seller, and linked to a tweet from weeks ago saying that he purchased EtherRock #42 for just 1.7 ETH (worth about $4,800 on August 4). “I think this might be the best investment of my life so far,” he wrote at the time.

“I had a hunch it would be something that collectors would want,” Osman said in a DM. “It's the perfect combo of historic (one of the first [NFT] projects), scarce (only 100, some lost), a meme (literally clipart) and polarising.”

It appears that whoever bought the million-dollar EtherRock is a bit of an NFT connoisseur. Transaction records show that this past March, the anonymous buyer paid 4,200 ETH ($7.6 million at the time) for a CryptoPunk, another years-old NFT from one of today’s best known collections. Osman added that he and the buyer are in touch, but declined to share their identity.

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EtherRock isn’t really about clipart. Buying an NFT doesn’t get you anything beyond the token itself, which points to an image file. The point is simplicity—a pure flex of a purchase, for the truly crypto-pilled.

“Rocks are about flexing,” Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares and EtherRock holder, previously told Motherboard. “There are only 100 rocks, and people who try to pretend they own one get called out quickly. Because the data is all public domain, you can see when a rock is moved to a new wallet address.”

And EtherRock’s star keeps rising. Two days ago, controversial crypto entrepreneur Justin Sun tweeted that he purchased an EtherRock for “half a million dollars,” though the number was more like $600,000.

Skeptics of the blockchain clipart bonanza abound, but Osman maintains that all press is good press.

“The more people hate the rock, the more it increases in price,” he said. “Expect it to sell for a multiple of this soon.”