$9 Million Historical Stradivarius Violin Minted as NFT

Chelle Louren
Jun 13, 2024

You’ve heard of phygital t-shirts, sneakers, and artwork, but an NFT Stradivarius violin?

That’s what Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd. has just created. The firm led by crypto billionaire Michael Novogratz tokenized a 316-year-old violin that once belonged to Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Nicknamed the "Empress Caterina," the vintage violin was bought at auction by Animoca Brands co-founder Yat Siu for over $9 million. Both the musical instrument and its corresponding NFT are being used as collateral for a multi-million dollar loan.

The “Empress Caterina”
Image Source: Classic FM

The physical instrument itself will be stored securely in Hong Kong. Tokenizing it makes it easy to buy, sell, or use the item as collateral while avoiding the hassle of securely shuttling the violin from one place to another. This solves the challenge of trading using a physical asset that requires constant maintenance and careful handling. In the future, Siu is open to fractionalizing the Stradivarius NFT to make it more accessible to investors and collectors.

As of late 2023, the value of assets managed on blockchain technology has exceeded $118 billion. Here are several other expensive items that have been successfully sold as NFTs:

1. Real Estate

Image Source: Roofstock

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington made history in 2017 by purchasing an apartment via NFT through the property-focused blockchain platform Propy. He later auctioned this Kiev-based studio apartment in 2021 for 36 ETH, or approximately $93,000 at that time.

In 2022, a three-bedroom home in South Carolina was sold for $175,000 on the Roofstock onChain NFT marketplace.  To facilitate the sale, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) minted the rental property as an NFT and transferred ownership of its on-chain identity to the buyer’s Ethereum address once the transaction was paid via USDC stablecoins. According to the property’s new owner, buying a home through the blockchain was much easier compared to the traditional house mortgage process.

2. Movies

Image Source: NFT Calendar

In 2021, Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino launched an NFT collection on OpenSea featuring digital images of excerpts of the original handwritten screenplay of his award-winning 1994 film “Pulp Fiction,” including uncut scenes. He claimed that each NFT contained a hidden secret about the film. The first one sold for $1.1 million at the height of the NFT craze, but due to intellectual property rights issues, Tarantino found himself in a legal battle with the film studio Miramax regarding the release of the NFTs.

3. Sneakers

Image Source: Sneaker News

Nike and RTFKT launched the CryptoKicks iRL, a limited edition collection of NFTs which give holders the right to own the actual pair of sneakers in real life. These are considered the first real native Web3 sneakers.

4. Luxury Cars

The iconic Ferrari F40

Blockchain-based luxury collectible marketplace Altr sold a Ferrari F40 in the form of an NFT. The luxury sports car was sold for $2.5 million in less than 48 hours. For the items it sells, Altr mints the digital proof of ownership as an NFT on the Polygon blockchain. It keeps the actual physical asset in safe custody until the owner arrives to claim it. 

5. Luxury Watches

Image Source: Bob’s Watches

The Ferrari isn’t the only luxury asset Altr has sold through NFTs. In 2023, in collaboration with The Watch Boutique, they fractionalized ownership rights to a Rolex Daytona 6265 into 500 shares. The watch sold out for a total of $195,000 USDT.

6. Tattoos

Image Source: Metro

To raise sponsorship funds, Croatian tennis player Oleksandra Oliynykova created an NFT representing a 15 cm section of her right arm. This NFT would grant the buyer lifetime rights to tattoo an image or message on her arm. It was sold for 3 ETH. 

7. Source Code for the World Wide Web

Image Source: NBC News

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, created a unique NFT based on the original time-stamped Python source code of the world wide web which he wrote in 1987. It was auctioned off on Sothebys for $5.4 million. The identity of the buyer remains undisclosed, though they now possess a blockchain certificate that verifies their ownership of the source code with a timestamp. (Fun fact: A video of the source code was posted on Sothebys and researchers have pointed out an error in the code.)

Of course, these aren’t the only assets that have been successfully tokenized and sold via NFTs. The list includes designer bags, event tickets, and even audio recordings of farts. As blockchain technology continues to gain traction, expect to see even more IRL use cases for NFTs in the future.

Chelle Louren
Web3 writer

Chelle is a freelance writer exploring where emerging tech and real world problems converge. Everything is a story, and she’s here to show that.

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