How to Buy and Sell NFTs after Beeple Art Sells for $69.3 Million

A type of digital artwork that can be bought and sold online has made headlines after one piece was sold at auction for $69 million on Thursday.

The sale quickly positioned artist Mike Winkelmann, who created the artwork, as one of the top three most valuable artists alive, according to auction house Christie's.

The art was an example of an NFT—a non-fungible token—which is a digital image that comes with a unique code to prove who owns it.

Google Trends data shows interest in NFTs has soared following the popular March 11 sale, and people may be wondering how to buy and sell NFTs themselves.

The first step to doing so is to sign up to a cryptocurrency wallet of some kind. This is because NFTs are bought, sold, and verified in a similar way to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin—using a blockchain.

A blockchain is a network of computers that all independently keep track of information at the same time. In the case of Bitcoin or NFTs, this information lets all users on the blockchain network know who has bought or sold a certain digital item.

These digital items, or the contracts of ownership, are kept in wallets, which is why it is necessary to own one to trade NFTs. Many prominent NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea, Foundation, and SuperRare accept a type of crypto wallet called Metamask, but others such as Fortmatic are also sometimes accepted.

Once a wallet is set up, the method of purchasing an NFT varies between sites. Some, such as Foundation, strictly accept the cryptocurrency Ethereum only, and each purchase made using the site is stored on the Ethereum blockchain.

For people who are less into the technology, Nifty Gateway may be preferable because it accepts normal cash via debit or credit cards for NFT purchases—though it does also accept Ethereum.

Selling an NFT differs between sites, but typically it can be done in two ways: Original NFTs can be created and sold by a digital artist, or they can be traded on a marketplace by users who have already bought them.

Selling as an artist involves changing a piece of artwork such as a video, image, or gif into an NFT using a trading platform. The artists should then decide how rare they want the artwork to be. They can sell just the one, or create a number of copies as part of a limited supply.

Each will still come with a unique identifier, so there is still value in purchasing a copy even though multiple NFTs of the same artwork may look identical.

One piece of artwork, titled "The Bitcoin Angel" by artist Trevor Jones, is available on NiftyGateway. There are currently 4,157 editions available; edition number #4144 is up for sale for $5,555, while edition #2775 is up for $100,777.

Credit card by laptop
A stock image shows someone holding a credit or debit card beside a laptop. Some platforms allow NFTs to be bought using normal cash, while others only trade in cryptocurrency. Sarinyapinngam/iStock