The Background

In July 2021, Damien Hirst released his first NFT collection, The Currency, on Palm, a scalable and cost-efficient Ethereum sidechain. Reimagining the way NFTs are used, The Currency is a collection of 10,000 NFTs which correspond to 10,000 unique physical artworks stored in a secure vault in the UK. 

Starting with the creation of the physical artworks in 2016, The Currency explores the boundaries of art and currency—when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art. 

Damien Hirst launched the project on HENI, and collaborated with Palm NFT Studio and Consensys to launch the project.

The NFT Cultural Experiment

Applicants were chosen at random to pay $2,000 in ETH, DAI, BTC, or USD, to receive an NFT. Ultimately, collectors will have to decide between the digital NFT or the physical artwork. They can not keep both. Whichever is picked, the other gets destroyed.

Which would you choose?

The Drop

  • 14-21 July: Open Applications

    • During this period, 32,492 unique users applied to purchase 67,023 NFTs (each user was allowed to apply for more than one NFT), for $2,000 USD each. Applications represented more than 6x the total supply—a great early indicator of secondary market interest. 

    • Applicants only needed to submit a verifiable email to register. They were given the option to connect their MetaMask wallets in order to increase likelihood of allocation. 

    • Many of the applicants, who were new to the Web3 space, did not connect their MetaMask wallets. A few NFT and DeFi power users did, in order to boost their chances.

    • Applications came from over 130 countries, with 23% from the US and 17% from the UK. 

  • 21-28 July: Allocation and Claim

    • During this period, an off-chain raffle algorithm programmatically selected winning applications. Successful applicants were given 48 hours to complete the payment flow. All available NFTs were sold and all payments were executed without vulnerabilities.

    • Only upon allocation were collectors required to provide a MetaMask wallet address, streamlining the registration process for users new to the Web3 space.

  • 28 July: Collectors received their NFTs

    • 10,000 NFTs were successfully minted. 9,000 were distributed to 8,299 wallets, while the remaining 1,000 were retained by Damien Hirst. The highly distributed drop achieved one of Hirst’s core goals. 

    • Collectors have received their NFT(s) and can now compare their NFT’s rarities in the HENI gallery, trade their NFT on the HENI, OpenSea, or Niftys marketplaces, or explore other possibilities within the Palm ecosystem.

Secondary sales have been active since distribution. As of 16 September 2021, a Currency NFT sold for as much as US$172,239, with average prices last month hovering around US$41,528.

The Experience

In order to encourage widespread participation in The Currency drop, Palm NFT Studio, working in conjunction with Consensys, sought to create an accessible and seamless experience for users. Consensys leveraged services from Consensys Quorum, Infura, and Consensys NFT to do so.

  • The Consensys NFT team worked with Palm NFT Studio and HENI to design the drop interface which included details around the project background, artwork features, drop timeline, and the DeFi cultural experiment. 

  • They created an easy registration process that required only a verifiable email from each user. Although the team gave users the option to connect their MetaMask wallets upon registration, this step was not necessary to submit an application. Only upon allocation and claim of the NFT were users required to install and connect MetaMask as part of the payment flow. By pushing the MetaMask component to the claim stage, Consensys NFT ensured new, non-DeFi-native users would be able to participate in the NFT drop as easily as DeFi power users.

  • They developed the allocation and claim mechanisms including...

    • Integrating payment rails for both fiat and crypto (ETH, DAI, and USDC)

    • Minting all 10,000 NFTs using Codefi smart contract technology

    • Hosting NFT images and metadata on IPFS using Infura services

    • Facilitating NFT claim and distribution to all collectors’ MetaMask wallets

    • Executing KYC requirements for collectors and built a KYC administration panel for HENI to manage

  • And finally, they collaborated with Palm NFT Studio and HENI to set up NFT analytics in order to track user behaviour before and after the allocation. This enabled the collection of drop statistics and data on secondary market activities.

  • Consensys Quorum enabled Palm to run a permissioned Ethereum network with enterprise-grade IBFT consensus. This leverages proof-of-authority instead of proof-of-work systems, making Palm 99% more energy efficient.

  • Infura powered the Palm experience by giving developers instant access to the Palm network via an RPC API. Digital art collectors can easily transfer their favorite NFTs on the Palm bridge because of Infura’s Ethereum API and ITX, which helps relay transactions between the Palm and Ethereum networks.

The Redemption Period

Starting roughly 2 months after the drop, collectors will get the opportunity to exchange their NFT for the physical artwork. Each collector will have one year to decide to keep EITHER the digital NFT or the physical artwork. 

Because one version of the artwork will be destroyed, once the redemption period closes, supplies of both the physical and digital artwork will reduce, making each piece all the more valuable. 

Will the NFT or the physical work become more scarce? We don’t know! The experimental nature of this particular drop is unprecedented.

  • Will someone form a DAO and burn it all? Last we checked, FlamingoDAO had at least 100 pieces!

  • Will collectors start to treat their NFTs as one and the same because of their similarity? Maybe they will form a Uniswap pool.

  • Will each collector fractionalize their NFT into individual dots? Nifty’s Jordan Lyall has already suggested this.

Whatever the outcome of this NFT cultural experiment, we are already seeing many new possibilities built on top of the NFT primitive—an intriguing reflection of how far yet the DeFi and NFT space have to grow.

About Consensys

Consensys is the leading Ethereum software company. We enable developers, enterprises, and people worldwide to build next-generation applications, launch modern financial infrastructure, and access the decentralized web. Our product suite, composed of Infura, Quorum, Codefi, MetaMask, Truffle and Diligence, serves millions of users, supports billions of blockchain-based queries for our clients, and has handled billions of dollars in digital assets. Ethereum is the largest programmable blockchain in the world, leading in business adoption, developer community, and DeFi activity. On this trusted, open source foundation, we are building the digital economy of tomorrow. 

About HENI

HENI is an international art services business working with leading artists and estates across printmaking, marketplaces for physical artworks, NFTs, publishing, digital, film production, art research and analysis. HENI is at the cutting edge of art and tech using the latest and best technologies in order to bring art to life.

About Palm

Palm is a new NFT ecosystem for culture and creativity, built efficiently with Ethereum. The Palm ecosystem features low gas costs, fast transaction finality, and is over 99% more energy efficient than proof of work systems. Palm is designed from the ground up to be as flexible as artists are creative. Today, Palm is making NFTs easier and more efficient to use with an Ethereum sidechain, and has a roadmap to decentralize over time.

About Palm NFT Studio

Palm NFT Studio is a collective of technology, entertainment, cryptoart and art industry leaders. The studio provides bespoke creative services for artists and rights holders looking to establish NFT marketplaces and next-generation work on Palm. Palm NFT Studio was brought together by Consensys founder and Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin; film producer and owner of Heyday Films, David Heyman; and founder of world class art house HENI Group, Joe Hage. The new venture is being led by co-founder and CEO Dan Heyman, former General Manager of protocols at Consensys. Initial projects launching on Palm include Damien Hirst's The Currency with HENI, Candy Digital's digital collectible program with Major League Baseball. 

Working together with creators and rights holders, Palm NFT Studio is developing the Palm ecosystem on Ethereum to be both scalable and sustainable.