For roughly $150,000 USD, Vodafone has become the world's first organization to sell a text message as an NFT.
The greeting was accidentally sent from Vodafone's programmer Neil Papworth to the organization's former director Richard Jarvis more than 29 years ago, and since it was December at the time, the message simply read "Merry Christmas." This historical telephone number, which was formerly represented by a paper certificate, was sold as an NFT in Paris on Monday for €132,680 EUR ($150,367 USD), according to the auction house.
Bidding began at just €10,000 EUR but quickly escalated as interested parties jumped on board with a flurry of last-minute bids. Papworth himself was in attendance, and he expressed excitement that the text message had been immortalized as a piece of history through this unique, physical token.
The sale marks a significant moment for NFTs and similar tokens which have gained a foothold in the mainstream over the past year. These digital collectibles have also proved to be a valuable asset class, as demonstrated by a number of high-profile sales. In February, one fan paid more than $170,000 USD to purchase the very first bitcoin transaction, and in May an NFT from Cryptokitties was sold for $140,000 USD after being purchased for only around $3.50 just a few months earlier.
Underwhelming beginnings notwithstanding, these items have historically been known to appreciate in value over time. Before becoming an NFT, the first text message was originally represented by a paper certificate that authenticated its historical importance while also boasting some additional flair. Papworth made sure to note during his remarks that this iteration of the world's first text message would likely not have been preserved in a museum.The seller of the text message was a Paris-based company called Bourgeois Pig, a blockchain and art dealer that has been experimenting with different ways to leverage NFTs, including this one. The auction house also notes that it is working on other projects involving traditional works of art which are being digitized and legitimized thanks to blockchain technology.