IT WAS AT A HIGH SCHOOL CAMADE The River Oaks home, filled with legendary paintings by Monet and Picasso, that Channel View native Brandon Buchanan became intrigued by the rare and valuable art.
The cryptocurrency investor, now 37, says getting lost in this collection of classic artwork as a child changed his life and influenced his pursuit of his own multi-million art collection of dollars.
But his collection is digital and exists in the volatile but profitable crypto art market.
Thanks to NFTs (non-fungible tokens), Buchanan was able to collect rare works of art.
In October, Buchanan, whose username is Rhincodon on the crypto market, purchased an extremely rare and one-of-a-kind item. Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. It was sold by Sotheby’s Metaversthe auction house’s NFT arm, for $3.4 million.
#AuctionUpdate #BAYC #8817 sells for a RECORD $3,408,000! This is the first time it has been available since its inception. Less than 1% of all Bored Apes have the gold fur trait. From the collection of @j1mmyeth #NativelyDigital pic.twitter.com/HfFTpEOIUh
— Sotheby’s Metaverse (@Sothebysverse) October 26, 2021
“Once you first visit websites that offer NFTs, like Rare and Deep sea, you’re shocked at how amazing some digital artwork is,” says Buchanan. “My first [NFT purchase] was the bored monkey.
Expensive digitized golden monkey graphic illustration is a highly sought after product, with only 46 never done. Sotheby’s sold a lot NFTs featuring multiple variations of the monkey character for over $20 million (which included a cryptocurrency payment option).
Ethereum is a form of cryptocurrency used to buy and sell NFTs, or digital files of artwork. With the price of Ethereum fluctuating all the time (at last count, the smallest unit of ETH, for ether, that you can buy was hovering around $2,400), the crypto market is anything but stable. It starts well above $150,000 to buy on the rare Bored Ape NFT collectibles market. Buchanan says that NFTs are “investable assets,” meaning they are investments that can be easily converted into cash. “I believe this year is going to be a big year for NFTs,” he says.
And the way the art market evolves, digital art has soared to become a $12.6 billion market, making it attractive to investors. The trend is most visible in music and creative spaces. Popular NFTs were created by Houston-area natives DJ Premier (his Golden Era Future NFT), and the famous collective of local DJs, The Chopstars, developed a DJ Screw NFT. Houston’s Legendary Rap Album Cover Artist Mike Frost and rapper Tow Down developed Dope Head’s NFT.
“The promise of cryptocurrency is to cut out the middleman in every way, and we’re going to see it weave into other markets,” Buchanan says.
University of Houston economics professor Christopher Clarke says Houstonia he agrees that crypto and NFTs will become more ubiquitous, but there is a lot of skepticism towards the virtual market. Clarke says the herd mentality is what keeps cryptocurrency afloat.
“All you need for any asset, for money to work, is the collective imagination,” Clarke says. “If enough people are willing to part with their money or other assets, then it will always exist.”
Buchanan’s road to learning the value of art – and investing in it – began when he was a student at the Awty International School, the Spring Branch private academy where he graduated in 2003. As part of the school’s bilingual program, he learned French fluently. This introduced him to a world of art, literature and culture. But it was thanks to a classmate that he was able to leverage the knowledge the books taught him to better appreciate the art of luxury.
Later degrees from Brown University and Harvard Law School put him in a position to acquire his own art. He began his career in finance, working in venture capital as a partner at Gunderson Dettmer, advising startups. He also served as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Metamorphic companiesa research-based investment company.
Wanting to use the knowledge gained from his work experience became the impetus to create his own startup and growing NFT portfolio. The classic art he encountered at a young age stayed with him, and this translated into his passion for collecting contemporary digital artworks bought and sold on the crypto market.
Cryptocurrency, by definition, is bankless digital money found on various blockchains, the immutable ledgers that can track the buying and selling of tangible and intangible assets (especially graphic art), land and virtual properties to rare collectibles. NFTs are digital assets that prove you purchased something that lives on the internet, and they come in several different formats, such as graphics like JPEG images, audio recordings, GIF video files, and short films.
NFTs piqued Buchanan’s interest in 2015, shortly after the concept of cryptocurrency was introduced in 2009. Although he has a multi-million dollar NFT, he intends to own more. He also started his own business, Capital Meta4a cryptocurrency fund 一 an initiative to buy digital works and exchange other rare NFTs.
Buchanan is fulfilling his own dream of investing in art and taking more advantage of this growing NFT market. He comes at the right time to create his own collection, like the one that impressed him so much when he was a child. He also wants his investments to return to the person who helped him get his high school education in the first place.
“With cryptocurrency and NFTs, I was able to retire my mother, who was a single mother and a teacher, and that means a lot. My mother doesn’t have to work anymore,” Buchanan says with a smile.