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Indonesian animation student earns USD 1 million from NFT selfies in four days

Written by Khamila Mulia Published on     3 mins read

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NFTs are gaining mainstream popularity in the country due to endorsements by local celebrities and influencers.

Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali, an NFT creator from Indonesia, became an overnight sensation in Southeast Asia’s crypto and digital art communities after hundreds of his selfies were sold on the OpenSea marketplace over the past three days.

Ghozali is an animation student in his senior year at a university in Central Java. The 22-year-old has been taking photos of himself in front of a computer regularly for five years, from 2017 to 2021, logging 933 images. On January 10, he minted those photographs as NFTs on OpenSea. Two days later, Ghozali tweeted that only 331 NFTs were still available to buyers on the marketplace.

On January 14, the floor price of images in his collection was ETH 0.24 (USD 785), while the highest offer was ETH 0.4, equivalent to USD 1,300 (IDR 18.6 million). Ghozali’s overall transaction volume reached ETH 314, or USD 1 million (IDR 14 billion), in four days.

In an interview with local media, Ghozali said he took a picture every day to make a video collage that shows how he has matured over the years. The video was originally intended for his own use. Ghozali listed his photos for sale on OpenSea for fun and didn’t expect anyone to purchase them.

“Maybe people bought the pictures to appreciate my consistent effort over the past five years, or maybe they think the idea [NFT selfie collection] is unique,” said Ghozali.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are data units stored on a blockchain, each associated with an asset, which is often a digital file. NFTs have become popular collectibles in the past year, including in Southeast Asia.

The Ghozali phenomenon is the latest surprise development in the NFT world. Last year, a 12-year-old coder in England earned USD 400,000 after selling NFTs of pixelated whales for two months. More recently, in December 2021, a digital artist named Murat Pak sold 266,445 tokens of a single work to nearly 30,000 buyers, generating more than USD 91 million in sales.

“NFTs rely on hype in the market. So the more people talk and promote NFT artworks like Ghozali’s, the higher its price will be. Buyers often buy NFTs driven by fear of missing out,” Rahmat Albariqi, founder of Indonesian NFT marketplace Paras.id, told KrASIA. He agreed that Ghozali’s selfie NFT collection is indeed unique, bringing a fresh idea to the crypto community.

Albariqi added that there are at least two types of NFT buyers—speculators and collectors. “Speculators aim to resell NFTs at a higher price, while collectors will keep the artwork because they genuinely like the art or they want to support the creators.”

A number of local celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon of creating and distributing their own NFTs in the past few months, boosting the popularity of this type of asset in Indonesia. Albariqi believes more people will explore opportunities in NFTs this year, either by becoming a creator or a buyer.

“We are still in the early phase, where people are learning about NFTs. While the hype is high now, not every sensational NFT project is sustainable. We’ll see more use cases of NFTs and I think projects like digital comics and games will gain mainstream popularity in the future,” said Albariqi.

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