Are NFTs a Money Laundering Gold Mine?

NFTs are hot. Sales of NFTs jumped from $13.7 million in the first half of 2020 to $2.5 billion in sales during the first half of 2021. What’s an NFT? NFTs are defined as non-fungible tokens, but are better explained as digital-only assets, and typically represented by works of digital art (images, gifs, videos, in game assets), some of which have sold for huge sums of money, such as Beeple’s ‘Opus’, which recently sold at a Christie’s auction for a stunning $69 million. An NFT named ‘Cryptopunk’ sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $11.8 million.

For the auctioneers it was just another day at the auction house! What makes these sales unique is that for the first time the auction houses are selling artwork with no physical form! In the case of Sotheby’s, NFT sales are part of a new and ongoing program called, Natively Digital. A Curated NFT. For buyer security, Blockchain authenticates each NFT, providing it a unique and permanent record of ownership. What the buyer does with the artwork is up to them, but I sense the purchase of an NFT today is mostly about status, rather than the art itself. I don’t really get the allure. Yet.

That being said, celebrities and athletes are getting into the NFT game now. Simon Biles, America’s sweetheart and the best gymnast in history, recently announced that she was joining the advisory board of Autograph, an NFT platform co-founded by the GOAT, Tom Brady. Autograph is selling its “Preseason Access Collection”, artistic autograph NFTs from Biles, Tiger Woods, Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka and more. As for Biles’ impression of NFTs?

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Richard Paxton

CEO of the Alacer Group. Sharing the latest news in financial crimes and best practices that enable financial institutions to prevent money laundering.

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