In 2021, the excitement around NFTs could barely be contained. Headlines were glowing and frenzied, and art collections and virtual land plots sold fast.
While this excitement — and the market — has cooled considerably, NFTs still make big news on a regular basis. Here’s a look back at some of the most significant NFT stories of 2022.
NFT markets take a -99% nosedive
In 2021, it seemed like everybody, including a number of big corporations and popular entertainers, was piling into NFTs and NFT-based virtual worlds. Mark Zuckerberg committed billions to Meta’s virtual reality division and its Horizon Worlds metaverse. Fast forward from New Year’s Day to September 2022, and NFT trading volume had cratered by 97%. By November, it was -99%.
The crypto market capitalization plummeted by $2 trillion between November 2021 and July 2022, yet NFTs fared even worse. Even once-six-figure NFTs are down 99%.
Starbucks selects Polygon for NFT and rewards program technology
In September 2022, Starbucks announced plans to launch the NFT-based Starbucks Odyssey program. This program builds on its existing Starbucks Rewards and gives customers a chance to buy or earn experiences and rewards.
Donald Trump promotes a plagiarized NFT collection
Donald Trump released an NFT collection via his Truth Social account, selling pictures of himself as fictional heroes for $99 apiece. Not surprisingly, many people hated them, but they still sold out. By December 20, their value had tanked by more than 70%.
Next, the collection got blasted for being nothing more than a series of poorly-Photoshopped images. PCMag as well as a Gizmodo writer found evidence that the NFTs’ creators may have plagiarized some styles from fashion brands and even ripped images from clothing selections on Amazon.
Read more: The best of the worst NFTs minted in 2022
Madonna NFTs auction flops
In May 2022, preeminent NFT artist Beeple and pop legend Madonna collaborated to auction off three NFTs that imagined the singer as the Mother of Creation. Previous NFTs from Beeple fetched prices up to $69 million at auction. In stark contrast, her Mother of Creation NFTs sold for just $135,000, $346,000, and $146,000.
At the time, some people blamed the relatively low prices on the declining NFT market and the generally poor performance of digital asset markets. Others blasted the poor taste of the artwork used for the NFTs, which Madonna tried to defend.
Seth Green forced to repurchase Bored Ape after theft
On May 17, 2022, Seth Green admitted that he had lost four NFTs, including a blue chip Bored Ape and two Mutant Apes in what he says was a phishing attack. Somebody may have purchased one of the stolen NFTs before the information became public.
He paid $297,000 to an NFT collector called ‘Mister Cheese’ to retrieve his Bored Ape. At the time, he had plans to use his NFTs for an animated show called White Horse Tavern.
Nike sells NFT image of sneaker for $134,000
In April 2022, Nike released an NFT collection called CryptoKicks based on images of sneakers. One of them sold for $134,000 in May despite criticism that it looked too much like a cynical money grab that didn’t even provide buyers with a pair of physical Nike sneakers.
Chevrolet auctions off Corvette NFT
Chevrolet fared better than some brands, auctioning a Corvette NFT that actually came with a car — specifically, a lime green 2023 Corvette Z06. Chevy promised that the car would be the only one painted in that color to represent the unique nature of the NFT.
NFT rug pull plotters face charges after making headlines
As is typical in the crypto space, the NFT niche was inundated with scams and rug pulls. In 2022, a few of the ruggers faced the potential for criminal convictions.
- On March 24, 2022, law enforcement authorities arrested two people behind the Frosties NFT rug pull on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.
- On June 30, the Department of Justice filed charges against six people involved in the Baller Ape Club scam, including founder Le Anh Tuan.
- Law enforcement authorities may still be investigating some NFT rug pulls like Big Daddy Ape Club, which pulled the rug after selling its collection on Civic. Civic personnel said that they were working with authorities on that case.
Bored Ape Yacht Club creator sues copycat
Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs sued an artist in a Los Angeles court, alleging that the artist copied the Bored Apes. Yuga Labs alleges that the artist, Ryder Ripps, went too far under the guise of satire and that he caused confusion and attempted to smear the reputation of Bored Apes by painting them as Nazis. In a statement on a website owned by Ripps, he claims that the work that includes Bored Apes was an attempt to recontextualize the Bored Ape artwork.
Minecraft denies plans to support NFTs
Minecraft was labeled as one of the video games to watch for an NFT announcement throughout 2022. Everyone wanted to get in on a potential Minecraft NFT. However, the announcement never came.
Instead, Minecraft developer Mojang denied that it had any plans to integrate NFTs, saying that all Minecraft players should have access to the same content. Mojang also reiterated that independently-owned Minecraft servers were not permitted to integrate blockchain technology or NFTs.